Article by Christopher Snowdon on spiked-online.
Of the 100 studies from around the world, 87 of them show a statistically significant reduction in SARS-CoV-2 infection risk among current smokers as compared to non-smokers. Seven of them found no statistically significant association either way. Two of them found mixed results. Four of them found a positive association between smoking and infection, although three of these looked at people with a genetic propensity to smoke rather than at smokers themselves.
The studies used a range of methodologies.
The findings are remarkably consistent, with smokers typically being 50 per cent less likely to catch the virus. Some of the researchers express surprise about this in the text of their study, others acknowledge that many other studies have found the same thing. Some of them discuss the possible biological mechanisms behind it, others do not mention the association at all. Some of them are clearly mortified to have reached a ‘pro-smoking’ conclusion.
Smoking cigarettes to ward off a respiratory disease does seem counterintuitive, I will grant you, and alternative explanations have been put forward.
Biological mechanisms exist to explain why smoking could protect from SARS-CoV-2 infection. I don’t pretend to be qualified to assess them, but the basic idea is that nicotine competes with the virus for the ACE2 receptor.
Google any mixture of ‘smoking’, ‘smokers’, ’tobacco’, ‘cigarettes’, ‘Covid-19’, ‘Covid’ and ‘coronavirus’ and you will get a series of obfuscating opinion pieces and misinformation from the WHO. Add in words like ‘evidence’, ‘study’, ‘studies’ or ‘research’ and the Thorax study nearly always appears at number one.
I don’t know whether this is Big Tech rigging the system or the natural result of that study’s prominence in the media and medical journals, but there has been a concerted effort among people in public health to misrepresent the evidence. You could say that this doesn’t really matter. There are arguably no practical applications from the knowledge that smoking (or nicotine) reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Nobody was ever going to recommend smoking as a preventive health strategy and nearly everybody has had Covid-19 now anyway. But the truth needs no justification to be heard and if they can get away with lying about this, what else are they lying about?
Every epidemiological study worth its salt pays lip service to the truism that correlation does not equal causation, but, in practice, this is only raised as a serious objection when the findings are inconvenient.
Demanding an impossible standard of evidence for politically awkward findings, while inferring causation at the drop of a hat when the science supports the cause, has been standard practice in public health for decades.
The medical establishment’s approach to inconvenient facts was summed up by TV doctor Xand Van Tulleken, when he was asked about the smoker’s paradox on the BBC in May 2020. With the unbreakable confidence that only comes with having a medical degree, he said [on Twitter]:
‘I haven’t looked into this particular bit of research, but I would discount it completely. It is definitely wrong.’
When evidence is dismissed sight unseen, we are in the realms of faith rather than science. Awkward facts become heresies, the heretics are condemned and the truth is withheld – all because the public are considered too stupid to handle nuance.