COVID-19 pandemic is affecting millions of lives all over the world. It doesn't seem to stop amid extreme lockdowns and limitations. 

Every day, scientists and researchers are learning further information about it to make battling the virus simpler.

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In a pan-India serosurvey by the Council of Science and Industrial Research in its nearly 40 institutes, smokers and especially vegetarians were found to have lower seropositivity, suggesting that they may lower the risk of coronavirus infection.

The survey was carried out through nearly 40 CSIR institutes. It also revealed that individuals with blood type 'O' are less susceptible to the virus. However, 'B' and 'AB' are at an increased risk of COVID-19 contracting.

To determine the existence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research or CSIR took samples from 10,427 adult individuals working in its laboratories or institutions and their family members for its analysis, based on voluntary participation.

After three months, a follow-up on 346 seropositive individuals among the samples showed 'stable' to 'higher' antibody levels against SARS-CoV-2. Still, decreasing plasma activity for virus neutralization, said Shantanu Sengupta, senior IGIB scientist and one of the paper's co-authors.

Repeated 6-month sampling of 35 individuals showed decreasing levels of antibodies while the neutralizing antibody remained stable compared to 3 months.

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However, both the usual antibody and the neutralizing antibody, he said, were far higher than the necessary threshold.

The paper also cites two studies in France and related studies in Italy, New York, and China that have recorded lower infection rates among smokers.

In July last year, the Union Ministry of Health reported that smokers were more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 because smoking increased the risk of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth and cautioned that smoking tobacco products could increase the severity of respiratory infections and make people susceptible to coronavirus.

However, the report indicated that smokers are less likely to be HIV positive and that smoking could be protective despite COVID-19 being a respiratory disease.

The Ministry said experts confirmed in its 'COVID-19 Pandemic and Tobacco Use in India' paper that smokers on the other hand are more adaptive to severe symptoms or die from COVID-19. It primarily targeted the lungs and cautioned against any such drugs being used.

Smokers are likely to be more prone to COVID-19, it warned, as the act of smoking suggests that fingers (and probably infected cigarettes) are in contact with lips, raising the risk of hand-to-mouth transmission of the virus.

The CSIR has some 40 institutes spanning the country's length and width, which specializes in various fields. The IGIB and its sister Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology have been at the forefront of coronavirus genome sequencing.

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