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Does Vaping Make Coronavirus Infection Worse?

There are a lot of articles being shared online about how vaping exacerbates the symptoms of the Covid-19 illness caused by the novel coronavirus, but while I can’t blame anyone for being scared for their life right now, I think keeping a cool head and looking at the facts is the best thing to do.

The one thing we really know right now is that we know very little about this new Coronavirus, from how it spreads, to how much it survives in the air and on different surfaces, let alone what exacerbates symptoms of the illness, or how to treat it. And yet, many so-called experts, from doctors to politicians, are urging people to give up vaping to make themselves less susceptible to Covid-19. The US Surgeon general even suggested that electronic cigarettes could be the catalyst for a rise in the number of younger people diagnosed with the disease.

“There are theories that (the increase in cases in younger populations) could be because we know we have a higher proportion of people in the United States, and also in Italy, who vape,” Dr. Jerome Adams said.

But as the Surgeon General himself admits, that is nothing more than a theory, and one that is not supported by any scientific finding. Realistically, the same can be said about smoking; we know how bad it can be to our health, particularly the respiratory system, but when it comes to the new coronavirus, we just don’t know how smoking influences the symptoms of someone suffering from Covid-19.

One could certainly make the case that diseases caused by smoking, such as COPD and emphysema may indeed make patients more vulnerable to complications of Covid-19, although there is currently no scientific study that shows that, but vaping? We have no proof that e-cigarettes causes chronic respiratory or cardiovascular illnesses, so why even mention it as a cause for concern in relations to the current pandemic?

ABC News recently reported that experts at the World Health Organization believe that because vaping can cause dangerous lung and respiratory problems, it is likely aggravate the symptoms of Covid-19. What dangerous lung and respiratory problems are they talking about? Do they have any scientific or medical evidence that we somehow haven’t heard about yet? Then again, the WHO has always been firmly against vaping, so its stance on this matter is hardly surprising.

But sadly it gets worse. Some doctors are even using the EVALI epidemic of 2019 as evidence that electronic cigarettes are dangerous, even though the CDC itself eventually admitted that the potentially deadly disease was caused by vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-containing products, not regular nicotine e-liquid. E-cigs have been around since 2003, but the first cases of EVALI only appeared last year. Doesn’t that seem a bit suspicious to any of these experts?

“We know that e-cigarettes include chemicals such as propylene glycol, glycerol, and flavorings, and that these chemicals have the ability to go deep into your lungs and cause damage,” Columbia University pediatrician Dr. Alok Patel told ABC News. “When people become critically ill from COVID-19, this also involves the deep pockets of their lungs. It’s really scary to think about what could be happening in those that have both of these going on together.”

Dr. Christy Sadreameli, pediatric pulmonologist at Johns Hopkins, also believes that vaping interferes with mucociliary clearance, and that “vaping can increase lung inflammation and may alter other pulmonary defense mechanisms, such as by decreasing the functioning of CFTR,” a protein that, when altered, can cause cystic fibrosis.

You will be shocked to know that vaping is not the only thing that can increase lung inflammation. Even breathing in water vapor can have the same effect for a short period of time, it doesn’t mean that it causes long-term damage. Plus, I find it mind-boggling that these people are expressing their concerns about vaping, but ignoring the pollution most urban center dwellers breathe in every day. Doesn’t that exacerbate Covid-19 symptoms?

As Dr. Konstantinos Farsalinos recently mentioned in a recent article on Ecigarette-Research, the current scientific evidence to suggest any negative impact of vaping in relation to infection with the new coronavirus simply doesn’t exist. It’s just theories, people expressing their beliefs and biases, and a lot of scaremongering. One thing is for certain, if quitting e-cigarettes means going back to smoking, you’re definitely much better off vaping, believe me!

Dr. Farsalinos mentions some studies that suggest the propylene glycol in e-juice could actually help mitigate the coronavirus infection, but they should be taken with a grain of salt. First of all, the studies he cites date back to the 1940s, and the findings are anything but conclusive. Still, they serve as evidence that one could make a case for vaping as a way to combat coronavirus infection despite lacking conclusive scientific evidence, just like all these experts are making a case against it.

The only things I am worried about these days is vaping as a vector for spreading the virus withing communities. People tend to accidentally touch the drip tips of their tanks and RDAs without even realizing, and then put those drip tips straight into their mouths. Some people even share their vapes with friends, which is really not recommended right now. Anything that helps spread the virus should be avoided, and proper hygiene is your best friend.

Wash your hands frequently, avoid crowded places, stay at home as much as you can, and don’t panic. That’s about all you should be worried about these days, not the effects of vaping on a disease we don’t even properly understand yet.

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