Surprise findings by Israeli researchers: those with asthma 30% less likely to contract coronavirus; age, gender don’t affect the outcome.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
With coronavirus vaccines months away from wide distribution and the pandemic raging out of control in many countries, asthma sufferers got a shot of good news after Israeli researchers discovered that those with asthma are actually less likely to contract COVID-19.
The researchers from Tel Aviv University and Ben Gurion University of the Negev studied a group of 37,469 subjects who were tested for coronavirus, with 2,266 (6.05%) testing positive.
Of those infected, only 153 (6.75 %) also suffered from asthma, while 3,388 subjects (9.62%) who said they deal with asthma regularly did not contract coronavirus at all. The researchers tested the effects of asthma drugs – antileukotrienes, inhaled corticosteroids and long-acting beta-blockers – but found no impact.
They also assessed the influence of sex, age, smoking, and comorbidity and still found “a negative association of asthma with the likelihood of being positive for COVID-19.”
The testing period took place from February 1, 2020 to June 30, 2020, with the first COVID-19 patient being diagnosed in Israel in February 2020. The study included Israel’s Jewish and Arab population.
The study concluded, “We observed lower COVID-19 susceptibility in patients with preexisting asthma.”
However, while they found that asthma sufferers appear to be almost a third less likely to contract coronavirus, the researchers noted that their study took place during the first half-year of the pandemic and their observations need replication in even larger samples and with patients from other institutions in order to confirm the findings.
The findings also supported the practice by physicians during the COVID-19 pandemic of “continu[ing] to treat asthma according to the existing asthma guidelines and recommendations.”
“The recommendation is that these patients make sure they continue taking their medication” during the pandemic, researcher Dr. Eli Merzon told the Jerusalem Post.
While the findings may be encouraging to asthma sufferers, experts caution that everybody should continue to adhere to health guidelines by wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and washing hands often.
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