11 March 2020
- Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday that a ‘healthy’ 22-year-old man was among the New Yorkers infected with coronavirus
- The man has no known pre-existing conditions, but uses e-cigarettes, which is believed to be a factor in his illness
- Doctors say that vaping can cause inflammation in the lungs, which makers it harder to fight off infections like the new virus
- In the US, there are more than 1,100 confirmed cases and 36 people have died
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Health experts are warning Americans that using e-cigarettes may increase their risk of contracting coronavirus.
On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio revealed that one of the state’s cases was an otherwise healthy 22-year-old man from Brooklyn.
‘Why is a 22-year-old man stable but hospitalized at this point?’ de Blasio asked at the news conference.
‘The one factor we know of is he is a vaper. So, we don’t know of any pre-existing conditions, but we do think the fact that he is a vaper is affecting this situation.’
Doctors agree and say that vaping can cause inflammation within the lungs, which makers it harder to fight off infections like the new virus.
De Blasio said people over the age of 50 and with heart disease, lung disease, cancer, immune system vulnerability or diabetes face are the most at risks.
But he stressed that smoking or vaping could make younger people more vulnerable to suffering complications if they are infected by coroanvirus.
‘If you are a smoker or a vaper that does make you more vulnerable,’ de Blasio told reporters on Sunday.
‘If you are a smoker or a vaper this is a very good time to stop that habit and we will help you.’
Doctors and health experts say that vaping compromises lung health, which means that their respiratory health is at risk.
‘If you compromise your lungs [by vaping], it certainly possible’ to increase your risk of coronavirus, Dr Dean Hart, a New York-based microbiologist told DailyMail.com.
‘Anything you do to compromise your body, it’s possible. Cigarettes and vapes do affect the respiratory tract and that’s where virus attacks.’
A recent study from China – the epicenter of the outbreak – found that men were more likely to die of the virus than women.
Experts say one theory for this is that nearly 50 percent of Chinese men smoke compared to less than two percent of women – suggesting that men’s lungs are already weakened when they are infected with coronavirus.
Dr Joanna Cohen, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CBS News that other early data coming out China has looked at smokers.
‘They did find that the severity of illness seemed to be associated with being a smoker or former smoker,’ she said.
‘Again, that would suggest the more lung injury you have might affect the disease severity. So we can’t say for sure, but it’s certainly something to be concerned about.’
Studies have shown that vitamin E acetate, found in many bootleg e-cigarettes, causes lung damage.
The vitamin derivative was found to be responsible in the serious of vaping-related lung illnesses that affected more than 2,000 Americans.
‘We know e-cigarette aerosol contains numerous chemicals that can cause an inflammatory response in the lung tissue,’ Dr Michael Steinberg, a professor in the department of medicine at the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, told CBS News.
‘In general, inflammation can lead to tissue damage, cause airway constriction, and has the potential to increase risk of infection. Since the e-cigarette phenomenon is still recent, we just don’t have as well-established information from humans as to the extent of this damage.’
Dr Hart said that if anyone was looking for a reason to quit vaping, this would be another one.
‘Would I necessarily stop because of the virus? No, but I would because it’s deadly and it could give you lung cancer regardless of whether or not you get sick with coronavirus,’ he said.
Worldwide, more than 124,000 people have been infected and more than 4,500 people have died.
In the US, there are more than 1,100 confirmed cases and 36 deaths in five states: California, Florida, New Jersey, South Dakota and Washington.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization officially declared coronavirus a global pandemic, a rare move for the health agency.