Smokers should be prioritised for Covid vaccine shots: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 04, 2021

Smokers are susceptible to other diseases as well, say researchers

A team of researchers has argued that smokers should also be included as one of the priority groups for Covid-19 jabs.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, stated that people who smoke or were smokers in the past are at a higher risk for developing coronavirus.

“I could see why people would feel as if that would be unfair but people who are smokers are in general at higher risk for getting sicker when they develop Covid-19,” said Dr Samuel Kim, a thoracic surgeon at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

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Risk of bad outcomes

“The finding that smoking is associated with increased risk of poor outcome from Covid-19 is not surprising,” said study co-author Dr Joe Zein, a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

“Smoking induces structural changes in the respiratory tract and compromises people’s ability to mount appropriate immune and inflammatory responses (against infections).”

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The researchers added that smokers are susceptible to other diseases as well. This includes high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which further increases their risk of bad outcomes.

The findings of the study suggested that Covid-19 patients who had smoked more than 30 pack-years (a figure derived by multiplying the number of packs per day times years of smoking) had 2.25 times higher odds of hospitalisation and were 1.89 times more likely to die than those who never smoked.

Dr Zein said it is difficult to capture the link between smoking and worse Covid-19 outcomes because electronic medical records may misclassify patients. Instead of putting a patient down as a “former smoker,” they’re sometimes classified as “never smokers.”

Published on February 04, 2021

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