Wed. Sep 30th, 2020

Myth-busting Covid 19 and Vaping

By now we are pretty sure you are well familiar with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease that is swirling around the world unless you’ve been living under a rock.

You may have heard about the pandemic and all its devastating effects. The virus can’t be taken lightly, especially to those with higher risk factors of infection.

Because the virus attacks the cardiovascular system and vaping is inadvertently associated with smoking. You must have the right information about Covid 19 and Vaping. However, we noticed that there are hundreds of myths that have now emerged and are being circulated on the internet, especially those concerning vaping. So, here are some myths around Covid 19 and vaping and the real truth you need to know about these two topics!

Myth number 1 – Vaping causes Lung disease

Covid 19 attacks the lungs, which makes someone with lung disease or at risk for it particularly vulnerable to severe complications if infected. In the past year or two, there have been significant campaigns to link vaping to lung disease.

The EVALI Outbreak

Last year around August and September, there was a rash of emergency room visits and significant news coverage about vaping related lung disease. Because a few of the patients died, anti-vaping proponents were all up at arms trying to get the product banned.

According to the CDC, as of Feb 20th this year, there have been 2,807 hospitalized EVALI cases or deaths in 50 states.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists studying the cause of the outbreak have discovered that the culprit is vitamin E acetate. The ingredient is found in some THC-containing vaping products, and it is strongly linked to the EVALI outbreak.

The CDC and FDA recommend removing THC and vitamin E acetate from any vaping products.

Medical experts have determined that there is no link between vaping and lung disease. The likely cause of the outbreak was contamination and allergic reactions to the contaminants in CBD products.

That lung disease has not been specifically linked to any particular brand of CBD product.

In conclusion, vaping CBD oil that does not have the added additives is most likely safe. Similarly, vaping does not cause lung disease and thus would not create risk factors for Covid19.

Myth number 2 – Vaping is a severe risk factor for progression to COVID-19

Anti vaping crusaders have always tried to equate vaping to smoking cigarettes. They argue that while vaping is likely safer, it is still just as bad as smoking. Cigarette smoking is one of the serious risk factors to COVID 19 progression.

According to the Massachusetts general hospital, most studies to date have identified the following as the main risk factors for severe disease.

  1. Age
  2.  Pre-existing pulmonary disease
  3. Chronic kidney disease
  4. Diabetes
  5.  Baseline hypertension
  6.  Pre-existing cardiovascular disease
  7. HIV

What all these conditions have in common is the fact they are diseases that compromise the immune system. In other words, if your immune system is already compromised and you get infected with COVID 19, then you are in real trouble.

In conclusion, because vaping has no effects on the immune system, it would not be a severe risk factor for progression.

Myth number 3 – Vaping can damage vital immune system cells.

Can vaping compromise your immune system, which could lead to severe complications when infected with Covid 19?

A recent study led by Prof David Thickett at the University of Birmingham sought to answer this very question.

His study, which was published online in the journal Thorax in 2018, determined that: E-cigarette vapor disabled critical immune cells in the lung and boosted inflammation.

To be fair, this was a microscopic study that involved only eight samples. It included researchers creating a mechanical procedure like vaping and using it on lung tissue samples from eight non-smokers.

They found vaping caused inflammation and prevented the alveolar macrophages. These are the cells that remove potentially damaging dust particles, bacteria, and allergens. Furthermore, they saw some similar effects on people with chronic lung disease and smokers.

They did clarity that this was a tiny sample that required further widespread study.

Anti vaping proponents seized the facts from this study to claim that vaping was causing an autoimmune disease.

The recent vaping can negatively affect the immune body response stories that may have originated from this study.

In conclusion, we may not know comprehensively how long term use of vaping products could affect one’s health. Alarmists will keep harking on the dangers and grasp any study, however small to justify their point of view. In the end, it is up to the individual to make their own choices.

Myth number 4 – vaping is just as bad as smoking

Anti vaping campaigners want you to believe that vaping is just as bad as smoking regular cigarettes. Medical experts say they don’t know conclusively. The CDC and the FDA want the experts to do more studies on the subject. All the arguments fall back on one thing, nicotine, and tobacco.

Tobacco is a plant that has been grown and used for centuries before cigarette manufacturers came along and added about 7000 different chemicals. For the misinformed public vaping is the same as smoking, but we know this not to be true. Take those chemicals out of the equation, and what you have is something safe and enjoyable to consume.

Covid 19 and smoking

Because the coronavirus causes respiratory problems, its effect on cigarette smokers is something to pursue. So if you are a dual smoker, which means you smoke cigarettes and vape, you are at a higher risk for complications from the Coronavirus. This is what the World Health Organization says.

  1. Smokers are more vulnerable for various reasons, one of which is the hand to mouth contact when smoking. If the hand or cigarette comes into contact with the virus, it can easily transmit to the lips.
  2. A chronic smoker may have a reduced lung capacity or lung disease, which will increase the risk of serious complications exponentially.
  3. Smoking water pipes in a social setting includes sharing mouthpieces, which increase the risks of infection and transmission.
  4. Any condition that leads to the body needing extra oxygen will increase the risk of complications.

In other words, anyone can get the virus if they are not careful and don’t follow the above rules and regulations preventing infection. As a smoker, once you get the virus, there is a higher chance of getting severe complications because of smoking.

It is the combination of chronic smoking and Covid 19 that could lead to severe complications. So one of the first things to do is stop smoking, if you are infected or at risk of infection.

In conclusion, cigarette smoking increases the risks associated with Coronavirus, but vaping alone does not. So if you are a dual vape and smoker, it is advisable to quit smoking at least temporarily.

Myth number 5 – COVID 19 effects and Vaping

Vaping delivers nicotine but in a less harmful way, which makes it a safer alternative. That doesn’t mean that it is 100% secure, and most experts say there needs to be more studies.

‘There is now general agreement that vaping use exposes the user to fewer toxicants than smoking tobacco cigarettes.’ (McNeill, 2015; RCP, 2016. Cochrane Review.)

So because it is not 100% foolproof means that the effects of smoking on the respiratory system still happens. But to a much lesser extent. Vaping is the smaller of 2 evils.

The lead researcher of tobacco control at Public Health England. Martin Dockrell said it best: “E-cigarettes are not 100% risk-free, but they are much less harmful than smoking.

Another recent argument that came from the vaping debate is as follows.

Exhaled vapor as a means of spreading the Coronavirus.

To first understand how the Coronavirus transmission happens through the air, we need to talk about the Aerosol.

An Aerosol is a minute air particle. It is contained in the vapor expelled by a smoker and is instrumental in spreading the virus.

A recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that aerosols containing Covid 19 could linger in the air for up to 3 hours.

Researchers from the NIH, CDC, UCLA, and Princeton University were trying to determine how long the Coronavirus lasts on certain surfaces.

Why this is important in vaping.

While the exhaled air will dissipate quickly into the air, the aerosols created by the expelled air will still linger on the surface for a long time and can help spread the disease.

Factors affecting the aerosol coronavirus spread

There are two types of aerosols, depending on size. The smaller aerosols can float around for a while, which is why everyone is wearing masks.

The bigger aerosols obviously will drop to the surface pretty quickly and stick to the surface that they land on.

Ventilation is vital because it depends on how long the aerosols hang around. A well-ventilated room will dilute the virus and reduce transmission.

In other words, someone with an infection can spread it to others if they are in the vicinity of his smoking. And this includes someone who is vaping as well.

Surface contacts  

The same study above discovered that the virus could lurk on a copper surface for up to four hours. Cardboard showed the virus 24 hours later. The worst surface was plastic and stainless steel, which showed the virus two to three days later.

According to medical experts, someone infected with Covid 19 and is a smoker. This person will spread the virus through the places they touch from the hand to mouth phenomena mentioned earlier.

It is essential to be careful where you touch if you have the virus because of the times shown above.

Vaping liquids

It is important to note that the liquids found in vaping products cannot spread the Coronavirus. If the virus was somehow introduced to the device when it touches the lips of an infected person, the burning up of the liquid to create vapor would make it impossible for the pathogen to survive.

Best practices for dealing with the Corona Virus if you vape.

  1. Firstly stay safe and keep your family safe. This is the essential thing that you can do during the pandemic. Sometimes all it takes is making smart choices to survive the tough times ahead.
  2. Follow all the guidelines outlined above to keep you and your family safe.
  3. If you vape, keep enjoying it but be cautious about your environment. Beware that there is a lot of misinformation on the Coronavirus and vaping. So don’t fall victim to a situation that could be easily avoided by caution.
  4. Try to educate those who do not have the right information about the virus and vaping to avoid confrontations.
  5.  If you are a dual smoker, try to stop smoking at least for a while because smoking is far worse. If you can do both, but if it is a choice between the two, then choose to vape.
  6. Vape in a well-ventilated area and try to observe the social distancing protocols like staying two feet away from others.
  7. Be realistic and empathize with everyone. So do not blow big clouds in all areas, including the outdoors.
  8. Use low powered devices, these devices are discreet, and using them reduces the risk of spreading the virus to others.
  9. Beware of the surfaces where you are vaping and avoid large crowds even if they are all vaping.
  10. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds if you are out there helps prevent the spread of the virus.
  11.  By all means, do not share your device with anyone, including family and friends. The risks are much higher for those who share smoking devices.

Note: We are not health experts, and the information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for medical advice from a doctor. This is information taken from reliable sources and other online medical experts.

If you have any of the symptoms found in this article. Please seek medical attention as soon as humanly possible.

Sources

  1. Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1  https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc2004973
  2. Pro-inflammatory effects of e-cigarette vapor condensate on human alveolar macrophages. Thorax, 2018; http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/thoraxjnl-2018-211663
  3. An outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products.

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html

  1. Vitamin E Acetate in Bronchoalveolar-Lavage Fluid Associated with EVALI – https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1916433

Risk Factors for COVID-19 Disease Progression – https://www.massgeneral.org/assets/MGH/pdf/news/coronavirus/risk-factors-for-severe-COVID-19.pdf