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Study Says Smokers at Higher Risk of Hospitalization and Death from COVID-19  


People check their phones in a smoking room at Shinagawa Station amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Tokyo, Japan, Aug. 2, 2021.

A new study out of Britain reveals that smokers have a greater chance of becoming severely ill from COVID-19 and are also more likely to die from the disease.

Scientists with the genetic research group UK Biobank observed more than 420,000 volunteers between January and August 2020, and drew on data from primary care records, COVID-19 test results, hospital admissions data and death certificates to identify the link between smoking and severe illness from the virus.

The study, published in the medical journal Thorax, found that current smokers were 80% more likely to be admitted to the hospital and a greater number more likely to die from COVID-19.

The researchers used a technique called Mendelian randomization that uses genetic variants to represent a particular risk factor, in this case variants that would make someone more likely to smoke heavily, to obtain evidence of a causal relationship.

The study says someone genetically predisposed to smoking had a 45% risk of infection and had a 60% higher risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19.

FILE - Syringes with the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 disease for Tokyo Metropolitan Government employees are seen at a newly opened vaccination center at the government building, Japan, July 1. 2021.
FILE - Syringes with the Moderna vaccine against COVID-19 disease for Tokyo Metropolitan Government employees are seen at a newly opened vaccination center at the government building, Japan, July 1. 2021.

As the number of COVID-19 infections slowly declines, the Japanese government is preparing to lift all COVID-19 emergency measures for the entire nation effective Thursday.

Japan has been under a state of emergency since April due to a surge of new infections sparked by the Delta variant, which lasted through the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Officials say the government will introduce other COVID-19 mitigation plans in place of the emergency decree, such as vaccine passports and coronavirus testing.

The nationwide state of emergency is ending as 57% of Japan’s citizens are fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, while the number of daily confirmed cases have fallen below 2,000, well below the 25,000-per-day mark at the height of the surge.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will formally announce the new plan on Tuesday.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press and Reuters.

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