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With COVID vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer showing promise in clinical trials, it finally seems as though the end of the pandemic may soon be in sight. However, even a highly-effective COVID vaccine may not confer the same degree of immunity to everyone. A new study reveals that if you smoke e-cigarettes, you may not have as much protection against the virus as you’d hoped. Read on to discover what the findings mean for smokers. And if you’re worried about your COVID risk, These 4 Easy-To-Miss Symptoms Could Mean You Have COVID, Experts Say.

Female doctor in protective suit giving vaccine against covid19 virus to senior man at home

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A recent study published in the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology reveals that vaping can alter the immune function in e-cigarette smokers, potentially making them more likely to become infected with coronavirus.

Meghan Rebuli, PhD, the study’s lead author and an assistant professor in the UNC Department of Pediatrics, explained in a statement that the study’s findings “[Suggest] that e-cigarette users are likely more susceptible to respiratory viruses than are non-smokers, and this likely includes SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).”

In terms of the efficacy of a COVID vaccine among smokers, there’s bad news, too. While levels of anti-LAIV IgA in nasal secretions—a possible indicator of immunity to a virus through following infection—increased among the non-smokers studied following an illness, the same wasn’t true of those who used e-cigarettes or tobacco cigarettes.

“This is not good,” explained study co-author Ilona Jaspers, PhD. “We want to see IgA levels increase during infection. It’s the body’s natural way to defend against an invader.”

Rebuli added that, while there isn’t yet conclusive data regarding how a COVID vaccine would affect e-cigarette users, the reduced immune response and IgA levels among that population could mean trouble for vapers post-vaccine.

“We know we never want to see suppression of genes, proteins, and antibodies involved in our immune response. And this is what we see in our data related to smoking and e-cigarette use,” explained Rebuli. Vaping isn’t the only habit that may affect your COVID risk or immunity, however—read on to discover which other habits could make you more susceptible to coronavirus. And for more news on the COVID vaccine, Dr. Fauci Says This Many People Need to Get Vaccinated to Stop COVID.

woman biting her nails while on the phone in front of a computer

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If you want to reduce your COVID risk, washing your hands isn’t enough. According to recent research, there’s a “hidden reservoir” of disease right at your fingertips.

According to Albert Wu, MS, and Shari Lipner, MD, PhD, co-authors of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, “Fingernails may act as reservoirs for viruses that are transmitted to the oral-nasal mucosa,” meaning it’s in your best interest to stop biting your nails and keep them short. And if you’re worried about your COVID risk, This Is How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

A happy golden retriever plays with a stick in the park

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Fido may be man’s best friend, but he could be your worst enemy when it comes to COVID, too. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Granada (UGR) and the Andalusian School of Public Health in Spain found that individuals who had a dog at home were 78 percent more likely to develop COVID than their counterparts without canine companions, likely due to the time spent in public and socialization associated with dog ownership. And if you’re concerned you could have been infected, If You Notice These 3 Strange Symptoms, You May Have COVID, Study Says.

Assorted vitamin supplement pills resting in the palm of a hand

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Whether you’re getting it through sunlight or supplements, vitamin D may play an important role in beating COVID. According to an Oct. 2020 study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 82 percent of individuals studied with COVID also had a vitamin D deficiency, while additional research suggests that vitamin D supplementation may lessen the severity of the disease. And for the latest in COVID news, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Portrait of young man with face mask back at work in office after lockdown, working.

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If your office allows you to work from home, you might want to take them up on it. According to a Nov. 6 report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), going into a physical workplace more than doubled a person’s risk of developing COVID.

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