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Meet the Indian Australian scientist studying factors that increase risk of COVID-19 infections

Dr Sukhwinder Singh Sohal from the School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania. Source: Supplied

Dr Sukhwinder Singh Sohal from the University of Tasmania is at the forefront of research on COVID-19, evaluating how smoking and vaping increases the risk for coronavirus infections.

Dr Sohal is Head of the Respiratory Translational Research Group at the School of Health Sciences, University of Tasmania in Launceston.

The major objective of the group is to translate basic scientific discoveries into clinical studies in patients to understand how to improve lung health.

Along with others, Dr Sohal’s study has proven that smokers are vulnerable to most of the respiratory viruses. 

While speaking to SBS Punjabi about his recent findings, he said that more research is required to determine how smoking can impact infection, transmission, and progression of COVID-19.

“We have found that ACE2 could be a novel adhesion molecule for COVID-19 and could potentially prevent fatal microbial infections. This is why it should be fast-tracked and prioritised for further research,” he said.  

Dr Sohal said that the role of smoking in the contraction, transmission and mortality rate of COVID-19 should be given more research attention, and countries should allocate resources to health stimulus packages, scientific research, and actions to further reduce smoking rates. 

We strongly recommend that the WHO and countries act to advance their efforts to reduce smoking, vaping and waterpipe use.

“Data on smoking status should be collected on all identified cases of COVID-19,” he added.  

Romy Sohal
Supplied

Dr Sohal migrated to Australia in 2006 as a PhD student at the University of Tasmania in 2006, graduating in 2010.

Originally from Punjab in Northern India, Dr Sohal has previously completed a Master’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.

He also holds a Master’s degree in Biochemical Pharmacology from the University of Southampton, UK.

To hear Dr Sohal's full interview, please click on the audio player above. 

Click here to know more about smoking and COVID-19.

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People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Find out what restrictions are in place for your state or territory.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at http://www.sbs.com.au/coronavirus

 

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