Are smokers protected against SARS-CoV-2 infection (COVID-19)? The origins of the myth

NPJ Prim Care Respir Med. 2021 Feb 26;31(1):10. doi: 10.1038/s41533-021-00223-1.


A number of recent studies have found low percentages of smokers among COVID-19 patients, causing scientists to conclude that smokers may be protected against SARS-CoV-2 infection. National and international media were interested in this story and we soon began receiving questions about this topic in general practice. In this article, we shed light on the process that resulted in the misinterpretation of observational research by scientists and the media. We also point out the methodological flaws of various studies on which hasty conclusions were based. Finally, we address the role of primary healthcare providers in mitigating the consequences of erroneous claims about a protective effect of smoking.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pandemics*
  • Smokers*
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Smoking / epidemiology