SMOKERS may be more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19, a high-ranking city health official said.
Davao City Covid-19 focal person Dr. Ashley Lopez said in a video presentation that smokers of cigarette, cigar, vape and other heated tobacco products may be more vulnerable to contracting the virus, as the act of smoking involves contact of fingers with the lips, which increases the possibility of transmission of viruses from hand to mouth.
Lopez, who is also the Vices Regulation Unit (VRU) head, said that smoking and vaping can affect one's cilia, which is located at nasopharynx, and lungs.
He said cilia are hair-like projections that move microbes and debris up and out of the airways. Scattered throughout the cilia are goblet cells that secrete mucus, which helps protect the lining of the bronchus and trap microorganisms.
"Ang maong mga bacteria ug virus ginatulak pagawas sa baga arun dili kini magpabilin ug mahimong hinungdan sa mga sakit ug komplikasyon. Kini usab ang usa sa pinaka unang depensa sa atong kalawasan kontra impeksyon (The bacteria and viruses are being pushed outside so they won't stay and cause infection and complications. This is also our body's first line of defense against infection)," Lopez said.
Loss or deteriorated cilia can make the smoker vulnerable to any virus. This is the reason why they can experience some symptoms such as fever, dry cough, and runny nose, which might be experienced for weeks or a month.
Conditions or activities that need higher oxygen requirements can lower the body's immune system, which would most likely lead to pneumonia, and possibly Covid-19 Acute Respiratory Disease (ARD).
"Ang mga nagapanigarilyo pwedeng na kompormiso na ang baga ug tungod niini mas minus na ang kapasidad sa ilang baga, kung sukad lima hangtud 10 katuig, nagsugod na sila og pag panigarilyo diin duna kini dakong risgo sa mas komplikado ug seryosong mga sakit (Smokers may have already compromised their lungs and because of this their lungs' capacity are decreased especially if they have been smoking for five or 10 years already. This may make them at risk of getting complications and serious diseases)," Lopez said.
Non-smokers with healthy lungs, meanwhile, have lower risks of getting Covid-19-ARD, he said.
The pandemic, he said, is the right time for smokers to quit their vices.
Meanwhile, in a radio interview, Lopez said there is still not enough evidence that second hand smoke can transmit the virus.
He said Covid-19 are transmitted through respiratory droplets, which could enter the body through the eyes, mouth, nose, or even ears.
"The virus, in order to be transmitted, kinahanglan siya ma-contain sa droplets. Kaning droplets, once ma-inhale sa tao, diha pa ka matakdan (needed to be contained within droplets. A person is infected if they get to inhale these droplets)," the official said.
He added the chemicals and the temperature brought about by the smoke cannot form droplets, which the virus cannot sustain to survive.
He said, however, that he has not yet any data of smokers in the city who got infected with Covid-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in a statement, has also cautioned the public from alleged reports that smoking or vaping can reduce the risk of getting infected with the Covid-19 virus.
"There is currently insufficient information to confirm any link between tobacco or nicotine in the prevention or treatment of Covid-19. WHO urges researchers, scientists and the media to be cautious about amplifying unproven claims that tobacco or nicotine could reduce the risk of Covid-19," WHO said.
The organization said they are constantly evaluating new research, including that which examines the link between tobacco use, nicotine use, and Covid-19.