According to a new study at Stanford University in California, young people who use electronic cigarettes face an increased risk of COVID-19 infection. Teens and young adults who vaped were five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. And young folks who vape and also smoke regular cigarettes have a sevenfold higher risk of getting COVID-19, researchers found. The new research followed a Chinese study that found smokers in that country had more serious infections and were hospitalized more often. While teens and young adults appear to be less affected by the new coronavirus, researchers wondered if e-cigarettes, which are popular among U.S. teens, might boost COVID-19 infection rates. Also Read – Sputnik V: How Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine works and why safety concerns are genuine
E-cigarettes are not safe
The finding, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, prompted lawmakers in the United States to ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to clear the market of all e-cigarettes until the coronavirus crisis is over. Researchers say that these are really, really high numbers. People must realize that e-cigarettes aren’t safe. It’s not just harmless, flavored water. There are real, significant, serious harms associated with these products. The study wasn’t designed to tease out whether there’s a direct cause-and-effect relationship, according to researchers, there are a number of plausible biological reasons a vaper or smoker might be more susceptible to a COVID-19 infection. Also Read – COVID-19 can affect your memory too: Brahmi can come to your rescue
It can affect the lungs and immune system
It is known that e-cigarettes can affect the lungs and the immune system. Plus, there’s a pathway that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, relies on to get into cells, and e-cigarettes may make this pathway more available. The more likely possibility is that teens may share e-cigarettes. If one teen is infected, the next who uses the device could inhale virus particles deep into their lungs. The exhaled vapor may also contain the virus, and this could potentially infect people nearby. That’s why the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy called on the FDA to remove vaping products from the U.S. market. Also Read – Gargle with mouthwash daily to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk
Vapers more like to have respiratory symptoms
To learn more, researchers conducted an online survey. More than 4,300 U.S. teens and young adults (aged 13 to 24) completed the survey in early May. Half said they had used e-cigarettes. Those who vaped and smoked were five times more likely to have COVID-19 symptoms, including coughs, fever, fatigue and trouble breathing, than those who never smoked or vaped. Young people using both e-cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes were nine times more likely to be tested for COVID-19 than their non-using peers. Those who just vaped were nearly three times more likely to get tested for COVID-19, the study found.
Vaping indicates risk-taking behaviour
For young people who are already hooked, it isn’t always easy to find help quitting. But it is not an impossible task. Though it’s plausible that tobacco products might increase the infection rate by damaging the respiratory epithelium [the lining of the lungs], it is equally likely that use of e-cigarettes is a marker for risk-taking. However, researchers say that further is needed to learn if e-cigarettes and traditional cigarettes cause the increased risk or not. But they do agree that, for whatever reason, adolescent and early adult users of e-cigarettes are at serious risk for COVID-19 infection and its complications.
(With inputs from IANS)