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The link between vaping and coronavirus risk in young people is becoming more clear

Doctors have long suspected that there’s a link between vaping and increased risk for coronavirus infection — especially in young people. But because COVID-19 is new, and the health outcomes of vaping are still being discovered, no one could be certain what vapers should expect. New research suggests that the intersection of vaping and coronavirus, indeed, is a dangerous place to be.

Research published in August looked at the associations between vaping and coronavirus infection in young people. The study examined 4,351 individuals between the ages of 13 and 24. What researchers found was that young people who vaped were five times more likely to be diagnosed with coronavirus. That’s a lot of sick — and infectious — Gen Zs.

In addition, dual users — people who had both smoked cigarettes and vaped — were seven times more likely to be diagnosed, and participants who had been both smoking and vaping within a month of the study than a month were nine times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the research. These statistics are staggering, especially given that some health officials — I’m looking at you, Scott Atlas — say that young people have little to fear from COVID-19.

Doctors still aren’t sure exactly what causes the high correlation between COVID-19 infection and vaping, but the clues are there — vaping affects your lungs and COVID-19 preys on weaker lungs. The reality is that there are just so many variables at play that it’s difficult to clinically parse them out. People who vape may be less able to fight off COVID-19 infection because of the effect of vaping on the immune system, or their lungs could be damaged, or it could be as simple as the fact that if you’re vaping, you are definitely not wearing a mask and probably touching your face more frequently than the average person, the New York Times reported.

It seems clear that there are enough complicating factors to warrant suspicion that vaping may not be the healthy alternative to smoking that it was once hailed as, and that now is a particularly good time to cut back or quit vaping.