Tobacco Harm Reduction Network (Thailand)

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Coronavirus: Can nicotine replacement products help combat Covid-19?

การสูบบุหรี่ การสูบไอและการระบาดของโคโรนาไวรัส (COVID-19)

Tests to see if nicotine patches and other quit-smoking aids can help combat coronavirus have been called for by a group of Welsh doctors.

The three hospital consultants had already written in the British Medical Journal for investigations to be “urgently considered” to see if patches can help the body stop Covid-19.

French researchers are testing patches on coronavirus patients and France has subsequently limited their sale.

Now the Welsh doctors want more tests.

As trials continue in France, the consultants based in the south Wales valleys want to see what effect all nicotine replacement therapies, including gums, lozenges and nasal sprays, can have on people with coronavirus.

Funders of new drugs are to be contacted on the group’s behalf by one of the UK’s top anaesthetists in a bid to trial the theory in Wales.

Last month, data from a Paris hospital indicated that smokers were statistically less likely to be admitted for treatment for Covid-19.

But the Welsh doctors have issued a strong non-smoking message and urged smokers to quit, saying if they catch the virus they are far more likely to die from it.

What is the thinking behind it?

“The physiology is immensely complicated but basically nicotine and Covid are involved with very similar pathways,” said trauma consultant Jonathan Davies.

“The thought is that the virus binds to receptors in your upper airways and we know that nicotine binds to the same receptors. So can nicotine block the virus from the attack, so to speak?

“So nicotine replacement products may have a role in preventing infection by blocking the receptor in the airways which the virus binds to – but this is speculative.”

Mr Davies together with two colleagues at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant – Dr Nerys Conway, a consultant respiratory physician, and Dr Robert Davies, a consultant anaesthetist – suggested the possible role for nicotine replacement drugs in treating Covid-19 in the BMJ on 20 March.

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