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

N.A. van Westen-Lagerweij*, E. Meijer, E.G. Meeuwsen, N.H. Chavannes, M.C. Willemsen, E.A. Croes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademicpeer-review


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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Number of pages3
Journalnpj Primary Care Respiratory Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Feb 2021



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