Research connects vaping to a higher chance of catching the virus — and suffering its worst effects.
Since the start of the pandemic, experts have warned that the coronavirus — a respiratory pathogen — probably capitalizes on the scarred lungs of smokers and vapers. Doctors and researchers are now starting to pinpoint the ways in which smoking and vaping seem to enhance the virus’s ability to spread from person to person, infiltrate the lungs and prompt some of Covid-19’s worst symptoms.
“I have no doubt in saying that smoking and vaping could put people at increased risk of poor outcomes from Covid-19,” said Dr. Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, a pediatric pulmonologist at Columbia University. “It is quite clear that smoking and vaping are bad for the lungs, and the predominant symptoms of Covid are respiratory. Those two things are going to be bad in combination.”
But while several studies have found that smoking can more than double a person’s risk of severe Covid-19 symptoms, the relationship between vaping and Covid-19 is only beginning to become clear. A team of researchers recently reported that young adults who vape are five times as likely to receive a coronavirus diagnosis.
“If I had caught Covid-19 within the week before I got really ill, I probably would have died,” said Janan Moein, 20, who was hospitalized in early December with a collapsed lung and a diagnosis of vaping-related lung illness.
Mr. Moein vaped his first pen a year ago, and by late fall he was blowing through several THC-laced cartridges a week.
Just months later, he found himself in the emergency room of Sharp Grossmont Hospital in San Diego, where he was plunged into a medically induced coma and forced onto a breathing machine. He lost nearly 50 pounds in two weeks.
At one point, Mr. Moein said, his doctors gave him a 5 percent chance of survival.
About 34 million adults smoke cigarettes in the United States, many of them from communities of color and low socioeconomic status — groups known to be more vulnerable to the virus. And more than five million middle and high school students reported using vapes, according to a 2019 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Protesters clashed with the police in Melbourne, Australia, at a “Freedom Day” rally on Saturday, calling for an end to tough lockdown restrictions. The police arrested 17 protesters and fined more than 160 others — nearly everyone who had flouted authorities’ instructions to stay home.
In all, about 200 protesters gathered at Victoria State’s war memorial, the Shrine of Remembrance, where they faced off against about 100 officers, some on horseback or in riot gear. At one point, groups of officers tackled several people to the ground before loading then into police vans. In another instance, the police put a mask on a protester after handcuffing him.
Many protesters accused the government of making up or overstating the effects of Covid-19.
“I’m personally here to say the lockdown needs to end,” said Dellacoma Rio, 38, who removed his shirt to show the word “Freedom” tattooed across his back.
Tensions have surged during the fifth week of Victoria’s six-week lockdown, which includes some of the strictest restrictions in the world. All nonessential businesses are closed. Melburnians are allowed to leave the house only for work, exercise or buying groceries, and travel is restricted to within about 3 miles of home. There is also a nightly curfew.
The state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, condemned the protest as “selfish, dangerous and unlawful.”
“Solidarity rallies” were also held in other capital cities across the country and gathered hundreds of attendees.
Some protesters wore masks and shirts alluding to the Illuminati, while others mentioned QAnon, the viral pro-Trump conspiracy theory.
Alem Dubael, 30, said he was protesting as part of a fight against “corruption in the new world order.”
“At the end of the day, the truth will come out,” he said. “And then everybody that was saying we’re idiots — when everything comes to light, they’ll find out they’re the actual idiots.”
Other coronavirus news from around the world:
Mexico’s coronavirus czar, Hugo Lopez-Gatell, told reporters on Friday that some states where the virus is surging, including Mexico and Baja California, had run out of death certificates last month. He said that more than a million new ones had been printed and were being distributed to health officials. The country had recorded coronavirus 66,329 deaths as of Friday, though a Times investigation in the spring found that the government was not reporting hundreds, possibly thousands, of such deaths in Mexico City, the capital.
A former prime minister of the Cook Islands, Joseph Williams, has died of Covid-19 in New Zealand, the country’s Health Ministry said on Saturday. He became the 24th person to die of Covid-19 in New Zealand, which has been under lockdown over the past few weeks to get a second small coronavirus outbreak under control. Mr. Williams, 85, was a well-known doctor in Auckland and served briefly as the Cook Islands’ prime minister in 1999.
Tech companies’ pandemic policies create a backlash against benefits aimed at parents.
At a recent companywide meeting, Facebook employees repeatedly argued that work policies created in response to Covid-19 “have primarily benefited parents.”
At Twitter, a fight erupted on an internal message board after a worker who didn’t have children at home accused another employee, who was taking a leave to care for a child, of not pulling his weight.
As companies wrestle with how to support their staff during the pandemic, some employees without children say they are being asked to shoulder a heavier workload. The divide is more pronounced at some technology companies, where workers tend to be younger and have come to expect generous perks and benefits in exchange for letting their jobs take over their lives.
Tech companies were among the first to ask employees to work from home in the pandemic, and to offer generous leave and additional time off once it became apparent that children would remain home from school.
The tension has been most vividly displayed at Facebook, which in March offered up to 10 weeks of paid time off for employees if they had to care for a child whose school or day-care facility had closed or for an older relative whose nursing home was not open.
When Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, hosted a companywide videoconference on Aug. 20, more than 2,000 employees voted to ask her what more Facebook could do to support nonparents.
An employee wrote in comments accompanying the video feed that it was “unfair” that nonparents could not take advantage of the same leave policy afforded parents. Another wrote that while the procedure for taking leave was usually difficult, it was “easy breezy” for parents.
A parent responded in a note on her corporate Facebook page, visible only inside the company, that the question was “harmful” because it made parents feel negatively judged and that a child care leave was hardly a mental or physical health break.
Not so long ago, before the coronavirus, India’s future looked entirely different.
It had a sizzling economy that was lifting millions out of poverty. It aimed to give its people a middle-class lifestyle, update its woefully vintage military and become a regional political and economic superpower that could rival China, Asia’s biggest success story.
But the economic devastation caused by the pandemic is imperiling many of India’s aspirations. The country’s economy has shrunk faster than any other major nation’s. As many as 200 million people could slip back into poverty, according to some estimates. Many of its normally vibrant streets are empty, with people too frightened of the outbreak to venture far.
Much of this damage was caused by a lockdown imposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that experts now say was both too tight and too porous, both hurting the economy and spreading the virus. India now has the fastest growing coronavirus outbreak, with more than 80,000 new infections reported each day. The country has now topped four million confirmed cases.
A sense of malaise is creeping over the nation. Its economic growth was slowing even before the pandemic. Social divisions are widening. Anti-Muslim feelings are on the rise, partly because of a malicious social media campaign that falsely blamed Muslims for spreading the virus. China is increasingly muscling into Indian territory.
Scholars use many of the same words when contemplating India today: Lost. Listless. Wounded. Rudderless. Unjust.
“The engine has been smashed,” said Arundhati Roy, one of India’s pre-eminent writers. “The ability to survive has been smashed. And the pieces are all up in the air. You don’t know where they are going to fall or how they are going to fall.”
Reporting was contributed by Alan Blinder, Damien Cave, Christopher Clarey, Ron DePasquale, Joe Drape, Sheera Frenkel, Jeffrey Gettleman, Emma Goldberg, Mike Ives, Daisuke Wakabayashi, Will Wright and Yan Zhuang.