Given that smoking famously causes lung disease, it came as a surprise in early 2020 when several studies suggested that smokers were underrepresented among patients with COVID-19. Smokers seemed to be protected from a disease that ravages the lungs. This apparent phenomenon became known as the “smokers’ paradox”.

We now know this is wrong. Indeed, smokers are 60%-80% more likely to be admitted to hospital with COVID, according to a recent study. But how did we come to believe in the extraordinary claim of the “smokers’ paradox” in the first place? Mark Shrime explains what went wrong with our thinking.

In the wake of the sentencing of the man who killed Sarah Everard, the UK government has introduced a strategy. The problem is it places the burden on women and girls to keep themselves safe, rather than addressing the causes of their lack of safety. And as the Conservative Party Conference discusses the country’s next steps, we also take a look at what the £20-a-week cut to universal credit will mean for hundreds of thousands of households. Watch out for our coverage of the conference later today.

Clint Witchalls

Health + Medicine Editor (UK edition)

No, it won’t protect you from COVID. Cultura RM/Alamy Stock Photo

Smokers were never really protected from COVID, despite what early studies claimed

Mark Shrime, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences

How the ‘smoker’s paradox’ went up in a puff of smoke.

Peter Dench / Alamy Stock Photo

Sarah Everard murder: the problem with the government’s plan to make women ‘feel’ safer

Tanya Beetham, Teesside University; Emma Turley, CQUniversity Australia; Lisa Lazard, The Open University; Lois Catrin Donnelly, University of Worcester; Lucy Thompson, Michigan State University

The government’s violence against women strategy fails to adequately address the reasons for women’s lack of safety.

Mark Harvey / Alamy Stock Photo

Universal credit: what the £20 a week cut will mean for hundreds of thousands of households

Donald Hirsch, Loughborough University

The end of the temporary uplift means many household budgets will no longer meet the minimum income standard.

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