Wednesday, August 19, 2020

California Researchers Make Dramatic Claims About E-Cigarettes & Covid-19, But Fail to Disclose Minuscule Case Numbers

The Journal of Adolescent Health published a study on August 11, by faculty from Stanford and the University of California, San Francisco, with senior author Bonnie Halpern-Felsher. Four thousand adolescents and young adults age 13-24 years were asked about ever using cigarettes or e-cigarettes, and having Covid-19 symptoms, tests and diagnoses.

The researchers’ bold claims can be seen in the Stanford Medicine webpage pictured above. Young people ever using e-cigarettes were five to seven times more likely to be diagnosed with Covid-19. Stanford Medicine promoted the study in a press release, and it was cited by Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi as a reason for the FDA to ban e-cigarettes as a Covid-19 hazard: “we have the evidence that the FDA was waiting for, and it can no longer deny the danger e-cigarettes pose during the coronavirus crisis.”

I have analyzed the study. While the authors failed to provide raw numbers of the ever e-cigarette users who were diagnosed with Covid-19, one can use their odds ratios to estimate those numbers. I have added them, in red, to the Stanford Medicine webpage below.



Because my estimates are approximate (they might be one lower or higher), I asked the senior author to provide actual numbers. She declined.

Researchers making extreme claims intended to influence national health policy are obligated to provide hard data. These California researchers have failed to do so.




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