Information provided by County of San Benito.
In an Aug. 18 press release, San Benito County shared the following information from a vaping study conducted by Stanford researchers linking vaping and COVID-19 infection.
According to the release, Stanford researchers found teens and young adults who vape are far more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19 than those who don’t. A young person who has vaped and smoked cigarettes is seven times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Someone who only vaped is five times as likely to get diagnosed.
“We should be concerned about vaping as we try to get the ongoing pandemic under control and as the number of younger people testing positive grows,” said San Benito County Interim Public Health Officer David Ghilarducci. “Young vapers’ vulnerability to COVID-19 should inform how regulators address the popularity of e-cigarettes.”
The proportion of young people getting infected with COVID-19 has recently risen dramatically, according to the World Health Organization. Out of the six million people with the disease globally, the percentage of those aged 15 to 24 has tripled from 4.5% to 15% in four months. According to the San Benito County COVID-19 Dashboard, 13.7% of those testing positive are 17 years or younger, which is considerable higher than the state positivity rate of 9.5% for the same age group.
A young person’s likelihood of getting sick is largely due to the way vaping affects the lungs or immune system—or vapers may be more exposed to COVID-19 for other reasons. Traces of the virus may be released through the plume of smoke. People who vape tend to share devices and touch their faces more as they puff, the study notes.
Researchers have suspected that vaping would lead to long-term health effects. What this study shows, is that there can be short term health effects to vaping as well, the release said.
“I don’t think anybody will be shocked at the results. I think people will say we saw this coming,” said Ghilarducci. “This is a pandemic…this is the time for you to quit and not start vaping.”
Health officials are calling for the Food and Drug Administration to regulate e-cigarettes and do outreach with teens on the link between vaping and COVID-19 as the pandemic continues to grow in the United States.