Study claiming smokers less vulnerable to Coronavirus retracted as authors linked to tobacco industry

 A recent study revealed that smokers are 23 per cent less likely to be infected with the deadly coronavirus. However, the study is now being retracted.

The study was conducted by a few experts by the European Respiratory Journal and concluded that "current smoking was not associated with adverse outcome" in Covid patients and announced that chain smokers were less vulnerable to the deadly virus.

However, it has now been revealed that two authors were associated with the tobacco industry and, thus, the result of the study might have been altered to cater to personal motives.

"It was brought to the editors' attention that two of the authors had failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest at the time of the manuscript’s submission," a notice in the latest edition of the European Respiratory Journal read.

"That is, one of the authors (José M. Mier) at the time had a current and ongoing role in providing consultancy to the tobacco industry on tobacco harm reduction; and another (Konstantinos Poulas) at the time was a principal investigator for the Greek NGO NOSMOKE … a science and innovation hub that has received funding from the Foundation for a Smoke Free World (an organisation funded by the tobacco industry)," it added.

The two authors had written "none" when asked about any "conflict of interests" during the paperwork about the study.

However, the editors have also added that there was no other misconduct from the authors. "The editors also acknowledge that at no point was there a question of any scientific misconduct on the part of any of the authors, aside from the failure of two contributing authors to disclose their conflicts of interest relating to the tobacco industry," the notice added.

A senior author of the paper, Konstantinos Farsalinos, also said the conflict of interests had no effect on the study’s main aims and objectives.

"Additionally, I proposed to publicly release the full dataset and the statistical script so that all findings could be independently verified," he said. "The editors declined. I requested my proposal to be mentioned in the retraction letter, but that was also rejected by the editors. I disagree with the retraction and I consider it unfair and unsubstantiated."(with inputs from agencies)


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