A recently released study by Stanford University School of Medicine finds that vaping is linked to a substantial increase in COVID-19 risk among teens and young adults. Among young people who were tested for the virus that causes COVID-19, the research found that those who vaped were five to seven times more likely to be infected than those who did not use e-cigarettes. Those who vaped and smoked cigarettes were 6.8 times as likely to have COVID-19 symptoms. The study also found that young people of Hispanic or multiracial ethnicity had a higher rate of diagnosis. “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, postdoctoral scholar Shivani Mathur Gaiha, PhD. “This study tells us pretty clearly that youth who are using vapes or are dual-using [e-cigarettes and cigarettes] are at elevated risk, and it’s not just a small increase in risk; it’s a big one,” Gaiha said.
Additionally, those that do contract the disease face a higher risk of complications. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 20% of patients sick enough to need hospitalization are between the ages of 20 and 44. This is causing health authorities to speculate that there may be a connection between this group’s high rate of using e-cigarettes and the hospitalization rate. “When someone’s lungs are exposed to flu or other infections the adverse effects of smoking or vaping are much more serious than among people who do not smoke or vape,” Stanton Glantz, professor of medicine and director of the Center for Tobacco Research Control & Education at University of California, San Francisco, wrote in a blog post updated Tuesday. “Vaping affects your lungs at every level. It affects the immune function in your nasal cavity by affecting cilia which push foreign things out…[T]he ability of your upper airways to clear viruses is compromised.”