Sci & Tech
Vaping makes you vulnerable to Coronavirus
It’s often portrayed as a healthier alternative to smoking, but if you vape, new warnings may put you off the habit.
Scientists have warned that vaping could make you more vulnerable to a severe infection with the coronavirus.
While there are yet to be any specific studies looking at this link, vaping has previously been shown to suppress immune function in the lungs and trigger inflammation.
Speaking to Scientific American, Dr Melodi Pirzada, a pulmonologist at NYU Winthrop Hospital, said: “All these things make me believe that we are going to have more severe cases—especially [in] people who are [long-term] smokers or vapers.
“It is definitely common sense to think that once you have a history of smoking or vaping, the whole airways, the defence mechanism of your lungs—everything changes.”
The lungs are lined with hairlike-structures called cilia that are responsible for taking the toxins and mucus out of your airways and clearing the lungs when you cough, Dr Pirzada explained: “For regular smoking, we know it inhibits the ciliary clearance of the airways.”
Meanwhile, if you do become infected with the coronavirus, there tends to be an influx of white blood cells, followed by lympochtes, which help to clear the lungs of infection.
Dr Ray Pickles, a microbiologist at the University of North Carolina, explained: “There’s a very coordinated series of events that take place when you do become infected with a virus.
“These are probably the events that take place in the vast majority of us as individuals, whether we’re infected by influenza or whether we’re infected by SARS-CoV-2. I think once you start perturbing this sequence of events in any which way or direction, that’s when things can go awry.”
Based on this knowledge, experts are urging people who vape or smoke to give up the habit amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Stanton Glantz, director for he Centre for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco, said: “I think that a sensible thing to do for people is to stop smoking and stop vaping—and avoid secondhand exposure.
“We don’t have every little detail on this nailed down. But based on what we know, generally, about smoking and e-cigarettes—and in particular about smoking and COVID-19 from people who are already sick, from one study in China—it stands to reason that you would lower your risk if you stopped doing these things.”