Science Lion Byte: Vaping Illness Outbreak Update – Jan. 31, 2020

***Science Lion Media will pause coverage on the vaping outbreak as the public health issue has plateaued and appears to be reaching a resolution. Thank you for heeding the advice of health professionals and communicators to protect yourselves and others from unnecessary harm***

Please refer to our previous publication for a comprehensive background of the vaping illness outbreak in the United States.

Here is a summary of the latest vaping-related lung illness information released by the CDC, as of January 21, 2019 at 1pm EST:

  • The CDC, as of December 4, 2019, has elected to only report hospitalized EVALI cases and related-deaths, regardless of hospitalization status. Non-hospitalized cases have been removed from previously reported case counts.                     
  • The number of e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI) cases has been reported to reach 2,711 nationwide. With California, Illinois, and Texas leading the nation in confirmed EVALI cases.
  • EVALI cases have now been reported in all 50 states of the United States, after Alaska’s Department of Health and Social Services reported their first case of vaping-related lung injury on December 3, 2019. The District of Columbia (D.C.), Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands have reported cases, as well.
  • There have now been 60 confirmed deaths related to EVALI, with Texas reporting the youngest EVALI-related death of a 15 year-old.

As of the most recent data collected from January 14, 2019, EVALI patient statistics are as follows:

  • Regarding hospitalization status, 95% of EVALI patients have been hospitalized; 5% have not.
  • 66% of patients are reported to be male.
  • The median age of patients is 24 years old, with an age range between 13 and 85 years old.
  • The median age of the deceased patients is 51 years old, with an age range between 15 and 75 years old.
  • Breakdown of patients by age group:
    15% of patients were under 18 years old
    37% were 18 to 24 years old
    24% were 25 to 34 years old
    24% were 35 years or older



The most complete information of patient product use, 3 months prior to symptom onset, reflects the following:

  • 82% reported using THC-containing products; 33% reported exclusive use of THC-containing products.
  • 57% reported using nicotine-containing products; 14% reported exclusive use of nicotine-containing products.
  • Younger EVALI patients (13-17 years of age) were significantly more likely to acquire THC-containing vape products only from informal sources (94%), versus 62% of older patients, 45 years of age and older.
  • Regarding nicotine-containing vape products, 42% of younger EVALI patients (13-17 years of age) acquired these products only from informal sources, versus 12% of older patients, 45 years of age and older.

Overall, 152 different THC-containing product brands were reported by EVALI patients, and of those products reported, *Dank Vapes was the most commonly reported product brand used by patients nationwide, although there are regional differences. This supports the premise that THC-containing products are heavily contributing to the EVALI outbreak, and that no one brand is solely responsible. Overall, these unregulated and off-branded products, in addition to their unconventional use, are suspected of undergirding the spread of this lung illness outbreak.

* Dank Vapes is a class of largely counterfeit THC-containing products of unknown origin.




On January 2, 2020, the FDA implemented a partial ban on vaping in the US, focused on ceasing the manufacture of unauthorized flavors which may appeal to under-age individuals. Additionally, President Trump has signed into law an amendment which nationally raises the smoking age from 18 to 21 years old.

Looking beyond the United States, President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has officially issued a ban on e-cigarettes, after the country reported its first confirmed EVALI case in a 16 year-old girl, on November 15, 2019.

The Philippines join roughly 30 other countries that have moved to issue a ban on e-cigarette products, including Brazil, India and Singapore. Indonesia is now strongly considering following suit of the Philippines by possibly issuing their own vaping ban to preempt the surfacing of EVALI cases in its country.

Canada is also experiencing an uptick in vaping cases with its 17th official EVALI case reported in the country, as of January 21, 2020.


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