ISLAMABAD: UK researchers have identified the increasing severity of COVID-19 and the risk of dying from the infection among heavy smokers, warning them to be cautious. The UK Biobank study published online in the respiratory journal Thorax, also found that smokers are 80% more likely to be hospitalized with covid 19. The research study “Smoking and COVID-19 outcomes: an observational and Mendelian randomization study using the UK Biobank cohort” revealed a 6-fold increase in risk of mortality from covid19 among heavy smokers. According to the details published in British Medical Journal, the researchers used Mendelian randomization to assess whether a genetic predisposition to smoking and heavy smoking might have a role in COVID-19 severity among 281,105 of the original participants living in England. The results revealed that a genetic predisposition to smoking was associated with a 45% higher risk of infection and a 60% higher risk of hospital admission for COVID-19. “Our results strongly suggest that smoking is related to your risk of getting severe COVID, and just as smoking affects your risk of heart disease, different cancers, and all those other conditions we know smoking is linked to, it appears that it’s the same for COVID. So now might be as good a time as any to quit cigarettes and quit smoking,” said lead researcher Dr. Ashley Clift. In the meantime, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has also warned that the Omicron and Delta coronavirus variants could produce a “tsunami” of COVID-19 cases that will put “immense pressure” on healthcare systems. “I’m highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible [and] circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at an online news conference from Geneva on Wednesday.