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New link between vaping and more severe COVID-19 symptoms

How much greater at risk are using of smoking and vaping products to the coronavirus infection and how severe might such an infection be? A growing body of research indicates that regular users of such products are at a higher risk.

Given that smoking (tobacco and cannabis) and vaping affect the cerebrovascular and neurological systems could place users of such products at a higher risk from a COVID-19 infection. It also stands that smokers are more prone to viral and bacterial infection compared to non-smokers (according to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center), therefore a considerable body of research is now being orientated towards identifying a correlation of smoking in COVID-19 patients.

Professor Stanton Glantz from the University of California at San Francisco places the risks associated with smoking and vaping on an equal footing, in terms of presenting significant risk factors for the progression to COVID-19.

Furthermore, a study from China of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 associated pneumonia who had been in hospital for two weeks reported that the odds of disease progression amounted to being 14 times higher those who had a history of smoking compared to those who did not smoke. This is important given that patients with severe or critical bilateral pneumonia account for around a fifth of symptomatic infected patients.

With e-cigarettes specifically, a series of experiments has found that nicotine induces an increase in angiotensin-converting enzyme-2 (ACE2) expression in human lung cells; this is something which is mediated by nicotinic receptors. This leads to a concern that electronic nicotine-delivery systems may place users at greater risk of succumbing to COVID-19.

On a similar note, Melodi Pirzada, chief of pediatric pulmonology at NYU Winthrop Hospital on Long Island is of the opinion that smoking—and possibly vaping—could increase the risk of developing a serious infection from the coronavirus.

Hence, the generalized advice to quit smoking as a measure to improve health risk remains valid and the same advice may also apply to vaping products.

Dangers of unsubstantiated health claims

There are some among the general population who follow what are generally regarded as unsubstantiated health claims in relation to vape device mechanisms. Claims have been made that such devices can function to protect individuals from the SARS virus. This is based on the misapprehension that vape devices increase humidity in the lungs and thereby prevent viral infections. There is no scientific evidence to support such a claim.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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