(NBC) – It’s rare that you hear using nicotine referred to as having any sort of health benefit. However, a study by French researchers may show that nicotine patches could help prevent coronavirus infections.

French researches say they found lower infection rate for smokers among COVID-19 patients than non-smokers. Only five percent of the patients smoke. Now compare that with 25 percent of the general population that smoke regularly.

So why is that?

Well, one explanation they say is that nicotine and the COVID-19 virus bind to the same cell receptors and that nicotine is able to block the virus from attaching itself.

That’s the hypothesis, they now have to test that.

They’ll be using nicotine patches on healthcare workers and patients.

But ever since the study came out, the French government has had to limit the sale of nicotine products to the general public.

And because it’s so controversial, the World Health Organization is also starting to look into it. They say that the warning stands that smokers belong to a higher risk group. But they are not discounting the French study just yet. They’re going to be looking into the detail and will come up with a conclusion after that.

Researchers and experts warn that this is by no means an encouragement to smoke. Smoking still is a major global killers and say to not try nicotine patches on your own.