Irina Petrache, M.D.

Irina Petrache, M.D.

Institution: National Jewish Health

Project: Novel risk factors for severe COVID-19 lung disease

Grant(s): COVID-19 Respiratory Virus Research Award

To better understand the mechanisms and clinical implications of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), we will determine if e-cigarette vaping and influenza virus are novel risk factors for severe COVID-19 lung disease, such as acute respiratory distress syndrome. There are high rates of co-infection of SARS-CoV-2 with other respiratory viruses, including influenza. This is important as we expect a resurgence of SARS-CoV-2 in the fall, during the flu season. Our studies suggest that vaping and low levels of influenza infection render the lung susceptible to a second hit with SARS-CoV-2. We will study this in detail in human cells and an animal model. Our work can impact public health by providing evidence for the need for flu vaccine in vapers, and to strongly encourage vaping cessation to decrease the morbidity of COVID-19.

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