More information is needed after a French study suggested nicotine might play a role in preventing some illness from the coronavirus. Nicotine is not thought to attack sars-cov-2 directly. It may, however, play an indirect role that involves a cell-membrane protein called ace2, to which the virus attaches itself in order to gain access to a cell. Some researchers suspect that nicotine binds to ace2 as well, and that this makes it harder for the virus to do so alongside it.
While researchers caution they're only seeing the tip of the iceberg, the tiny differences between the virus strains suggest shelter-in-place orders are working in some areas and that no one strain of the virus is more deadly than another. They also say it does not appear the strains will grow more lethal as they evolve.