The Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT) and other healthcare ETFs have been trading higher amid news that U.S. health officials may finally have a potential discovery in the vaping illness outbreak that’s killed at least 39 people, and has sickened at least 2,051 people.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Friday that they are noting that vitamin E acetate could be a “potential toxin of concern.”
According to the CDC, “Recent CDC laboratory testing of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (or samples of fluid collected from the lungs) from 29 patients with EVALI submitted to CDC from 10 states found vitamin E acetate in all of the BAL fluid samples. Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette, or vaping, products. This is the first time that we have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries.”
The compound used in supplements, cosmetics and vaping products was discovered in all 29 lung tissue samples from the patients that health officials tested, Dr. Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, told reporters on a conference call.
“We have a potential toxin of concern from biological samples in patients,” Schuchat said. “We are in a better place than we were a few weeks ago in terms of finding a culprit.”
Although Vitamin E has long been used for skin treatment and health reasons, the inhalation of the substance can have deleterious effects notes Schuchat.
“There is a big difference between putting vitamin E acetate on one’s skin or swallowing a vitamin E pill and inhaling vitamin E acetate in an e-liquid,” she said.
While there has been some debate as to whether the illnesses and deaths were limited to tobacco related vaping or extended to cannabis related vaping as well, THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was found in 23 of the 29 samples tested, officials said Friday, while nicotine was detected in 16 samples, which came from 10 different states across the country, the officials said.
Investigators are still uncertain as to what other factors such as type of vaping equipment could be affecting smokers.
“Many products and substances are still being investigated,” Schuchat said.
Investors who are concerned about the effects of vaping and tobacco in general could consider healthcare ETFs like the Fidelity MSCI Health Care ETF (FHLC) or the Vanguard Health Care ETF (VHT), while those who would like to invest in rising tobacco technology trends could consider the Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLP) or the iShares Global Consumer Staples ETF (KXI).
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