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Coronavirus - assessing the effects of smoking and vaping

Can tobacco and e-cigarette use affect the outcomes of COVID-19? Graham Cope looks at the early evidence

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that infect a range of animal species including humans. Here they usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold. However, occasionally these viruses jump species, called a ‘spill-over’ event, and that has the potential to cause more serious disease. Three ‘spill-over’ coronaviruses have emerged in recent years: including SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) which was discovered in late 2002; MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome), which began in 2012; and COVID-19, which started in China in December 2019 and is caused by the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2.1

Symptoms of this virus commonly include fever, tiredness and a dry cough. Other possible symptoms include shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of the sense of smell, with a few people reporting diarrhoea, nausea or a runny nose.2

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