Hyderabad: Many websites are claiming that a survey conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the ministry of science and technology, has found that smokers and vegetarians are less vulnerable to COVID-19. The articles said the survey showed that vegetarian food rich in fiber may have a role to play in providing immunity against COVID-19 due to its anti-inflammatory properties by modification of gut microbiota. Click here, here, and here to read a few articles.
In light of this, the CSIR issued a clarification that said, "CSIR has NOT ISSUED a Press Note titled "CSIR Study Reveals Smokers and Vegetarians are Less Vulnerable to Covid-19 Infection" (dated 24 April 2021)". It further said, "NO conclusion can be drawn that the vegetarian diet and smoking may protect from COVID-19 based on these studies."
CSIR said exploration is necessary before reaching any conclusions, especially since seropositivity is an imperfect marker of infection-risk and may equally well be explained by altered antibody response and dynamics.
The Press Information Bureau fact-check team had also tweeted, "Presently, NO conclusion can be drawn based on the serological studies that vegetarian diet & smoking may protect from #COVID19". This tweet was shared by CSIR.
As of now, no conclusion can be drawn that a vegetarian diet and smoking may protect from COVID-19. CSIR has not issued any such press note.