Researchers have found cannabis users in the US had better outcomes and lower mortality rates after contracting COVID-19 compared to non-users.
Scientists studied 322,214 individuals aged 18-plus on the National Inpatient Sample Database who had been admitted to hospital with a COVID diagnosis. Of that cohort, 2,603 were identified as cannabis users.
The cannabis group were younger and more likely to use tobacco. However, other co-morbidities including obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus were more prevalent in the non-user group.
Based on univariate analysis (exploring each variable in a data set separately), cannabis users had significantly lower rates of intubation (6.8% versus 12%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (2.1% vs 6%), acute respiratory failure (25% vs 52.9%) and severe sepsis with multi-organ failure (5.8% vs 12%).
They also had lower in-hospital cardiac arrest (1.2% vs 2.7%) and mortality (2.9% vs 13.5%).
The researchers conclude: “The beneficial effect of marijuana use may be attributed to its potential to inhibit viral entry into cells and prevent the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thus mitigating cytokine release syndrome.”
Previous studies have suggested cannabinoids may slow the phenomenon whereby the body produces too many cytokines to fight viruses – the so-called cytokine storm believed to be the main cause of COVID deaths.