Vapers at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, says study


As strange as it might sound, a new study from Stanford University School of Medicine has come to a conclusion that vaping could substantially increase the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus.

The study, which was published online Aug. 11 in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is the first to examine connections between youth vaping and COVID-19 using U.S. population-based data collected during the pandemic.

According to the study, teens and young adults who vape are five times more likely to become infected with the coronavirus compared with those who did not use e-cigarettes. Those who both vaped and traditionally smoked were nearly seven times more likely to become infected.

“Young people may believe their age protects them from contracting the virus or that they will not experience symptoms of COVID-19, but the data show this isn’t true among those who vape,” said the study’s lead author, Shivani Mathur Gaiha.

Stanford researchers looked at surveys completed by more than 4,300 participants between the ages of 13 to 24 who lived throughout the country, including the District of Columbia and three U.S. territories.

Dr. Sunil Sharma, chief of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine at West Virginia University Medicine, said that while more testing in this population could contribute to an increase in positive diagnoses, the study’s results are consistent with previously published literature on vaping and decreased immunity.

“At least hypothetically, it goes along with what we have learned about e-cigarettes,” he said. “These do harm the lungs and, in some way, the lungs translate to reduced immunity to infection and that could certainly mean more propensity for COVID-19.”

In response to the study, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., chairman of the House’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn that calls on the agency to clear the market of all e-cigarettes for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.