Tuesday 7 April 2020

Public Health England up to its old tricks

Anyone hoping for Public Health England to turn over a new leaf and be honest with people in the age of coronavirus is et to be disappointed. They put out this press release on Friday...

Smokers at greater risk of severe respiratory disease from COVID-19

Emerging evidence from China shows smokers with COVID-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease.

This is a highly selective use of the evidence, as I explain in an article for Spectator USA...

An evidence review published three weeks ago found no association between smoking and the severity of COVID-19. This is a rapidly evolving field of research and the results may change over time, but evidence from the 13 studies published to date ‘does not support the argument that current smoking is a risk factor for hospitalization for COVID-19’. On the contrary, it ‘raises the hypothesis that nicotine may have beneficial effects on COVID-19.’

Taken as a whole, the evidence on smoking and COVID-19 does not point in the direction the ‘public health’ lobby would like it to. And so they have ignored it, focusing instead on a single study which reported a monstrously high 14-fold increase in risk for smokers who contract the disease. The study only looked at five smokers and is an obvious outlier, but it has been treated as definitive proof by activists around the world. Public Health England, which is under fire for its weak response to the pandemic, retreated to its comfort zone last week, telling smokers that they are ‘at greater risk of developing severe disease from the COVID-19 virus’ and that there ‘has never been a more important time to stop smoking.’ The only evidence cited by the agency was ‘a small but highly impactful survey from China’ which found that ‘smokers with COVID-19 are 14 times more likely to develop severe disease.’

The article looks at several examples of single-issue pressure groups making tenuous links between their pet causes and coronavirus. Do have a read.

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