Smokers and COPD patients suffer more and die more from COVID-19

Article written by Bruce Sylvester.

Current smokers and those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD suffer greater COVID-19 severity and greater COVID-19 related mortality..

..researchers from a new meta-analysis of relevant studies have reported. The findings appeared on May 11, 2020 in the Public Library of Science/PLOS.

The authors said, “Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an evolving infectious disease that dramatically spread all over the world in the early part of 2020. No studies have yet summarized the potential severity and mortality risks caused by COVID-19 in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and we update information in smokers.”

The investigators systematically searched electronic databases from inception to March 24, 2020, identifying eligible studies. They conducted a meta-analysis of pooled data using standard statistical tools.

They screened a total of 184 studies. Of these, 15 studies met the inclusion criteria for the meta-analysis. The studies  included 2,473 confirmed COVID-19 patients.

The fatality rate of COVID-19 was 7.4%. The prevalence COPD patients and smokers among COVID-19 cases was 2%  and 9%  respectively.

The investigators found that COPD patients were at a higher risk of more severe disease (63%) compared to patients without COPD (33.4%). Subjects with COPD had a 60% higher mortality rate than non-COPD subjects.

Also, 22% of current smokers and 46% of ex-smokers had severe complications.  Current smokers were 1.45 times more likely to have severe complications compared to former and never smokers. Current smokers also a 38.5% higher mortality rate compared to former and never smokers.

The authors concluded, “Although COPD prevalence in COVID-19 cases was low in current reports, COVID-19 infection was associated with substantial severity and mortality rates in COPD. Compared to former and never smokers, current smokers were at greater risk of severe complications and higher mortality rate. Effective preventive measures are required to reduce COVID-19 risk in COPD patients and current smokers.”