Large Study Discovers Blood Type O May Be A Protective Factor Against COVID-19
23andMe happens to be a well-known personal genomics and biotechnology company. Its popular home DNA testing kit enables people to learn about their genetic make-up or ancestry. But, it wasn’t until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic that the company shifted their attention to see how their gene testing services could be of use in understanding the pathophysiology of the deadly disease.
1Why does COVID-19 cause serious symptoms in some people while it causes only mild symptoms in others?
Scientists and clinicians are still unsure why some of those infected with the SARS-CoV-2, displayed mild to moderate symptoms while others had more severe or serious symptoms. Some infected people even showed no symptoms at all.
2Is genetics a deciding factor?
The role of genetics has now been questioned by 23andMe- “Why? Well, we know that specific genetic variants can render individuals as less or more susceptible to developing other infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and norovirus”.
A study published in 2017 by 23andMe, contributed to this field research which helped in identifying nearly 60 genetic variants associated with susceptibility to one of 17 infectious diseases.
3Genetic variation can play a role in COVID-19 severity
SARS-CoV-2 infects the body by entering the cells and attaching itself to a human protein called ACE2. The gene that encodes this protein may be surrounded by genetic variants which have an impact on the amount of protein produced, and its functioning. Based on this it is plausible to consider the fact that genetic variation can influence the severity of COVID-19 in an individual. To gather enough data to prove or negate this theory would require a large scale study in a range of populations.