France has banned the online sale of nicotine products after a new study suggests the highly addictive stimulant could lower the transmission risk of COVID-19, reported BBC News.
The French government on Friday issued the new rule preventing online retailers from selling nicotine patches or other forms of nicotine products and requested all pharmacies to limit physical sales.
Limitations on nicotine sales came after a new study last week via the Pitié-Salpêtrière University Hospital in Paris examined 343 COVID-19 patients along with 139 people with moderate symptoms. The result of the study was a low number of vrius patients were smokers, considering at least 35% of the population smokes cigarettes and uses nicotine products.
"Among these patients, only five percent were smokers," said Zahir Amoura, the study's lead scientist.
The research concluded similar findings in the New England Journal of Medicine that said 12.6% of 1,000 people infected in China were smokers.
According to neurobiologist Jean-Pierre Changeux from France's Pasteur Institut, who co-lead the study, the theory behind the research is that nicotine could adhere to cell receptors and block the virus from entering cells and possibly prevent replication through the body.
Researchers are waiting on regulatory approval to conduct a study that will place nicotine patches on doctors and nurses at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital to see if it shields them from the virus. The patches will also be used on patients in the hospitals to see if it helps to reduce symptoms. Researchers claim nicotine could thwart "cytokine storms," which is an overreaction of the immune system, and scientists believe it plays a crucial role in fatal COVID-19 cases.
However, further research is needed, and there is nothing conclusive at the moment that nicotine patches reduce transmission risk.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said last week that smokers "may be at increased risk" of COVID-19 infection and could suffer more severe symptoms.
The World Health Organization on Friday said the French findings were "not consistent with what we see in other countries."
Search trend "nicotine coronavirus" has erupted across the US in the last several days.
It remains to be seen if nicotine products can be effective against the virus. But we're assuming, as per France's measure to limit sales, panic-hoarding could be develop across the world if more promising results are released.