A new study from Stanford researchers found that teenagers and young adults who vape have an increased risk of getting COVID-19. While the researchers expected to see some relationship between vaping and contracting the coronavirus, they were surprised how much smoking e-cigarettes increased the risk.
They found that teens and young adults who vape were five to seven times more likely than non-vapers to get COVID-19.
"We were surprised," said Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, professor of pediatrics at Stanford University and the study's senior author. "We thought that we'd see some relationship. We did not expect to see a five to seven times more likely relationship. That's huge."
The researchers said they need to do more testing to determine why vaping increases the risk of getting COVID-19, though they do have some theories to explain it. One possibility is that the aerosol emitted from e-cigarettes may contain droplets with coronavirus, which could be inhaled by others nearby. She also said that people who vape tend to share their electronic cigarettes, and are unlikely to be wearing a mask while vaping.
Halpern-Felsher also said it is possible that vaping causes lung damage, making a person more susceptible to a respiratory infection.
"We've seen adolescents who are vaping having asthma. We've seen seizures. We've seen bronchitis, pneumonia, hospitalizations, lung collapsing, and now we're seeing COVID," Halpern-Felsher said.
"We don't know. These are hypotheses," Halpern-Felsher added. "I actually think it's all of the above."
On Tuesday (August 11), a group of lawmakers sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn asking the agency to remove vaping products from the market until the coronavirus pandemic is over.
"This is true in vapers as young as 13, which is particularly concerning, given that young people are increasingly driving the spread of COVID-19, threatening the health and safety of Americans of all ages," wrote Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform's Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy.
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