An international collaboration of scientists from the UK, Norway and the U.S. have identified genetic evidence supporting a causal effect of smoking and obesity on increasing susceptibility to severe COVID-19 and sepsis.
Published online in Circulation today, the results show that both smoking and higher body mass index (BMI, a measure of obesity) increase risk of severe COVID-19. The same was also true for the risk of developing sepsis, which is a dangerous inflammatory response to infection, experienced by many patients with severe COVID-19.
Confirming the causal connection also highlights that stopping smoking and losing weight can be effective interventions for reducing the risk of developing severe COVID-19 and sepsis.
Led by Dr. Dipender Gill, from St George’s, University of London and Imperial College London, the “Mendelian randomisation” study considered separate datasets of 3,199 patients with severe COVID-19 and 10,154 patients with sepsis. Using genetic