Image by Lindsay Fox/Victor Tangermann

Remember vape lung? Or, as doctors and health officials ended up calling it, EVALI?

University of North Carolina School of Medicine otolaryngologist Willard Harrill does, and he's actually found parallels between last year's vape lung epidemic and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has much of the U.S. on lockdown.

"Faced with the evolving COVID‐19 pandemic," Harrill wrote in an editorial published in the journal Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology on Monday, "it is easy to forget last year's very relevant epidemic of e‐cigarette, or vaping, product use‐associated lung injury (EVALI)."

In his editorial, Harrill showed that heatmaps of the U.S. showing EVALI cases and fatalities and COVID-19 cases by state are highly similar. Both presented hotspots in California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Illinois.

But more notable, Harrill writes, is how the ongoing pandemic could cause a new surge in vaping and smoking.

As people turn to vices like nicotine and weed to cope with the stress of the coronavirus, Harrill predicts a new spike in adolescent vaping, which would put those people at even greater risk of having a more severe case of COVID-19 than they would otherwise.

"Within public health prism, pulmonary inflammation resulting from vaping/ENDS use within the adolescent and millennial populations significantly raises the COVID‐19 pulmonary morbidity within what should be the healthiest COVID‐19 risk groups," Harrill writes.

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