Smoking
can make people more susceptible to serious complications from a coronavirus
infection, the European Union agency for disease control said on Wednesday
citing scientific studies – although available data is still limited.

In its updated
assessment of the risks caused by the coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, the European
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) included smokers among those
potentially most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

It also
said data from China showed 80% of people infected with the disease had only
mild symptoms, but in Europe that percentage dropped to 70%, as three in every
10 cases have required hospitalisation. 

Smokers
have also appeared to be more susceptible to breathing complications caused by
the disease, and the ECDC said it was advisable to identify them as a potential
vulnerable group, confirming an earlier assessment.

The agency
cited a study by Chinese doctors which on a sample of 99 patients affected by
the coronavirus found that acute smokers were more at risk of dying than
elderly people.

The ECDC
report also said smoking was associated with heightened activity in the lungs
of an enzyme, ACE2, that could make patients more vulnerable to COVID-19,
citing a study conducted by Guoshuai Cai, from the University of South
Carolina.

The
activity of ACE2, or angiotensin converting enzyme 2, also increases with age
and with some kinds of hypertension treatment – both risk factors – the ECDC
said.

The study,
also based on a small sample, concluded that smokers may be more susceptible to
the virus.

It added
that former smokers appeared to be more at risk than current smokers because
the enzyme was more active in different cells in former smokers.  

SOURCE: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-smoking/smokers-likely-to-be-more-at-risk-from-coronavirus-eu-agency-idUSKBN21C2TS