French scientists are conducting trials to see if nicotine could help protect against the coronavirus and reduce symptoms in those with COVID-19, after it was noted that smokers were underrepresented among those who had disease. A recent study by Professor Zahir Amoura of the Pitié Salpétrière hospital in Paris revealed that, out of 482 COVID-19 patients who presented to the hospital between February 28 and April 9, only 4.4% of hospitalized patients and 5.3% of outpatients were daily smokers, compared to 25.4% of the general population. In addition, according to Al Arabiya, smokers were 80% less likely to develop severe systems. This observation led the researchers to hypothesize that nicotine prevents the virus from settling down by binding to cell receptor sites, thereby preventing the coronavirus from doing so. “There seems to be a protective effect of smoking on the risk of COVID-19 infection,” said Jean-Pierre Changeux, professor emeritus of neuroscience at the Pasteur Institute, co-author of the Amoura study, on the Human Brain Project. “This is a somewhat counterintuitive discovery which, at this point, is not understood. Because of the urgent need for therapy under current conditions, we have together published a hypothesis on this subject, “he said. Changeux said two studies linking nicotine to possible COVID-19 treatments are currently underway. The first, carried out by Professor Amoura, consists of giving nicotine patches to health workers to prevent infection, aggravating patients hospitalized with COVID-19 and seriously ill patients COVID-19 in the hope of treating disease. The second, which takes place at the Institut Pasteur, examines the relationship between the virus and nicotine. In particular, researchers are studying whether nicotine helps prevent “cytokine storms”, a rapid over-reaction of the body’s immune system to the virus, which they believe may play a role in the development of fatal infections. Amoura’s findings on the suppressive effect of smoking on the coronavirus were echoed in similar findings published by the New England Journal of Medicine last month, which found that, out of 1,000 people infected with coronavirus in China, 12 , 6% were smokers, compared with 26% in the general population. However, Jérôme Salomon, the highest health official in France, has warned against preventive smoking, AFP said. “We must not forget the harmful effects of nicotine. Those who don’t smoke should definitely not use nicotine substitutes, “he said, explaining that it can cause addiction and side effects. Al Arabiya also reported that smokers are more likely to have more severe coronavirus symptoms and are advised to quit. In addition, the Israeli Ministry of Health has cited smoking as one of the main risk factors for having a more serious case of COVID-19. People who suffer from underlying medical conditions are most at risk of developing a serious case of COVID-19, according to Tuesday, he shared what these preexisting medical conditions were: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, BMI 30 or more (obesity), any surgery (other than birth) in the past three years and smoking for 10 more years.Maayan Hoffman contributed to this report.