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Does vaping increase your risk of getting COVID-19? Doctors weigh in

Caroline Roberts Aug. 13, 2020 2:07 p.m. PT

As confirmed coronavirus infections continue to rise, scientists are looking into any factors that may exacerbate the spread of the virus and the illness it causes. We know that the immunocompromised and the elderly are at higher risk, but researchers are starting to turn their attention to another potential risk factor: vaping.

There is limited research on a possible link between COVID-19 and vaping, but medical expertise and common sense can tell us a little bit about the association. I spoke to three doctors to get the lowdown: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine provider Dr. Michael Hall, tobacco-cessation specialist Dr. Elisa Tong and Yale Medicine pulmonologist Dr. Stephen Baldassarri. Read on for everything you need to know about a potential link between the novel coronavirus and vaping. 

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What do we know about a link between vaping and coronavirus?

A study published in August 2020 in the Journal of Adolescent Health analyzed data from a survey of more than 4,000 people aged 13 to 24 conducted in May 2020. Of that group, those who have ever used an e-cigarette were five times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those who haven't. Those who use both traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes were seven times more likely.

Lawmakers are using that study to petition the FDA [PDF] to temporarily remove e-cigarette products from the market in an attempt to slow the increase of new cases. 

More research needs to be done to better understand how vaping and COVID-19 are connected, especially in older populations, but we know enough about the effects of vaping on the lungs and immune system to make some educated guesses.

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