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Sep 10, 2020

The COEHAR of the University of Catania, the Duke University (US), and the IRCCS Maria SS Oasi of Troina started the first seroepidemiological survey to assess the level of immunity to COVID-19 on the population of Troina, a high-risk area with a surge in numbers of Covid-19 related cases.

 In the past few days, seroepidemiological tests on citizens have been performed to assess the impact of smoking on the Covid-19 infections on the most vulnerable part of the population. The subjects of the study were selected according to a multi-layered probabilistic sampling plan by gender and age on citizens from 5 to over 80 years old. Among them, the employees of the Oasi of Troina, many of whom were tested positive to the Covid-19 infection.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, Italy inspires the international scientific debate on the issue. The data and the results of the studies carried out on high-risk areas proved to be essential to the evaluation of the impact of the pandemic containment actions worldwide. Coehar’s research underlines for the first time the relationship between smoking, infection rates, and disease caused by the virus, thanks to a rigorous scientific method and verified serological tests.

The idea behind the research originated with the analysis of numerous International analysis, that reveal a possible protective shield for smokers against coronavirus infection and Covid-19 hospitalization.

 “Evidence from different studies carried out in patients hospitalized for Covid-19 showed a very low percentage of smokers” explained Prof. Riccardo Polosa, the Founder of the Coehar. “This should lead us to reflect on the potential mechanisms that develop between smoking and the prevalence and severity of Covid-19. However, it is necessary to analyze the correlation with more reliable methods than those used so far”.

The study includes serological analysis to assess the level of anti-Sars-Cov-2 blocking antibodies, an epidemiological survey performed through an online form and thirdly, one of the innovative features fo the projects, the analysis of specific biomarkers to have the biochemical confirmation of smokers status. The survey involves nearly two-thousand residents in Troina municipality and it is carried out thanks to the precious collaboration of the Scientific Direction of the Oasi of Troina, the Municipality itself, and the Civil Protection.

The data emerging from the study will be fundamental to get clues on the possible correlation between smoking and Covid-19: an issue that WHO and International Public Health Organizations have already focused on. The data will also provide governments with useful information on the vaccination program while waiting for the vaccine to be available.

The project aims to create a BioBank of samples of serum: the bank will be created and managed in collaboration with the spin-off of the University of Catania, ECLAT SRL, and it will provide quick and reliable tests for the assessment of smoking biomarkers.

The case-study, presented by ECLAT, is financed by the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World and is carried out in collaboration with IRCSS Oasi Maria SS of Troina and Coehar’s researchers, including the founder Riccardo Polosa, Venera Tomaselli, Margherita Ferrante, Filippo Caraci.