U.S. vaping-related deaths rise to 57, cases of illness to 2,602

(Reuters) – U.S. health officials on Thursday reported 2 more deaths from a mysterious respiratory illness tied to vaping, taking the total death toll to 57.

As of Jan. 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 41 new cases from the illness associated with use of e-cigarettes, or vaping products. The number of people hospitalized now stands at 2,602.

The agency released a series of reports last month indicating that the outbreak of vaping-related lung injuries appears to be waning, as evidence mounts that vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent used in marijuana vape cartridges, is playing a role in the illnesses.

FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator vapes during a protest at the Massachusetts State House against the state’s four-month ban on all vaping product sales in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., October 3, 2019.REUTERS/BRIAN SNYDER/FILE PHOTO

CDC has called vitamin E acetate as a “chemical of concern” and recommended that the substance not be added to e-cigarettes, or vaping products, while the investigation is ongoing.

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla and Saumya Sibi Joseph in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)