DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) — A surge in COVID-19 cases in people between the ages of 18 and 49 has some health officials warning about a possible link between the disease and vaping.
Currently, there is no scientific evidence connecting the two as there is little to no data on people with coronavirus and who also vape.
However, health officials say there are plenty of reasons to believe that those who frequently use e-cigarettes are likely at greater risk.
“We want to base everything we do, especially in emergency situations like this, on facts and we don’t have a lot of data on this,” said Dr. Rose Marie Robertson, Chief Science Medical Officer for the American Heart Association. “But we know for sure people with chronic respiratory diseases have a greatly increased fatality rate. They die more often if they get infected with the coronavirus.”
While the evidence connecting vaping to the coronavirus is, at best, limited, that’s not the case for smoking.
According to new medical studies looking at COVID-19 patients in China, smokers have a higher risk of severe illness and even death, if they get the coronavirus, than non-smokers.
A study from the Chinese Medical Journal found COVID-19 patients who smoked were 14 times more likely to develop pneumonia.
Another study from the New England Journal of Medicine found in China 17% of COVID-19 patients who had severe illness were current smokers and 5% had previously smoked.
The same type studies have not been done on people who vape.
Over the past year, the CBS 11 I-Team has reported on a dramatic increase in North Texas teens vaping, including several who were hospitalized with breathing issues due to their addiction.
Dr. Robertson said by the time conclusive studies can be done on the possible connection between the coronavirus and vaping, it may be too late for many.
“So my advice is if you can do anything to reduce your risk, it is to make sure your health is as good as possible,” she said.