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Vaping and e-cigarettes: Adding fuel to the coronavirus fire?

New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week warns that young people may be more impacted by COVID-19 than was initially thought, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization.

Although scientists still don’t have good data to explain exactly why some young people are getting very sick from the novel coronavirus, some experts are now saying that the popularity of e-cigarettes and vaping could be making a bad situation even worse.

Approximately one in four teens in the United States vapes or smokes e-cigarettes, with the FDA declaring the teenage use of these products a nationwide epidemic and the CDC warning about a life-threatening vaping illness called EVALI, or “E-cigarette or Vaping-Associated Lung Injury.”

Public health experts believe that conventional cigarette smokers are likely to have more serious illness if they become infected with COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization. Because vaping can also cause dangerous lung and respiratory problems, experts say it makes sense that the habit could aggravate the symptoms of COVID-19, although they will need longer-term studies to know for sure.

Vaping may increase risk of serious COVID-19

Columbia University pediatrician Dr. Alok Patel, an ABC News special correspondent, points out that cases of EVALI provide very real evidence that vaping can cause direct lung damage, which puts e-cigarette users in the “high-risk bracket” of those most vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19.

“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,” Dr. 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.”

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