There are a number of factors that we know put you at a greater risk of developing a severe COVID-19 case, from your sex to any preexisting medical conditions. But scientists have recently found increasing evidence that there might be an even more important factor at play: your genes. According to a recent U.K. study of 2,200 patients with severe COVID, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, researchers have identified common gene variants linked to the most severe cases of coronavirus. Not only could this help identify at-risk individuals ahead of time, but it could also narrow in on existing medications that could help treat COVID-19. Read on to learn more, and for another risk that's putting you in danger right now, know that Lacking This Vitamin Is Putting You at Severe COVID Risk, Study Says.
The results of the new study confirm the involvement of the chromosome 3 region when it comes to the coronavirus, stating that "a single copy of the disease-associated variant more than doubles an infected person's odds of developing severe COVID-19." In addition, the study found that a variant of the gene IFNAR2 was associated with a 30-percent increased risk of severe COVID-19. Additionally, variants in OAS genes—which code for proteins that activate an enzyme that breaks down viral RNA—that impair their typical function may allow for the virus to "flourish" in your body.
"Each one provides a potential target [for treatment]," genetic epidemiologist Priya Duggal, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University, told Science.
While further research is needed, the researchers also found that two genes, DPP9 and TKY2, related to inflammatory responses, may have some involvement in severe COVID-19 risk. That means existing drugs for treating diabetes and arthritis could be effective in alleviating COVID-19 symptoms.
Read on to discover more factors that are associated with severe coronavirus, and for more signs of sickness, If You Can't Smell These 2 Things, You May Have COVID.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a high-risk factor for severe COVID-19 and people who are considered obese (meaning they have a body mass index, or BMI, of 30 or higher) are three times more likely to be hospitalized for the coronavirus than those who are not. And for more on who this is affecting, read about how One of the Biggest COVID Risks Actually Only Affects Men, Study Finds.
People with type-2 diabetes are considered among the highest risk for severe cases of COVID-19, according to the CDC and medical experts across the board. In fact, the level of severity individuals with the condition face when infected with coronavirus was highlighted in a recent French study, which found that 10 percent of patients with diabetes who were hospitalized for severe COVID-19 died within a week of being admitted. And for more on the signs of this serious preexisting condition, here are The Subtle Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes Lurking in Plain Sight.
According to the CDC, any type of preexisting heart condition may put you at a higher risk of severe COVID-19, but the following forms are the most concerning: heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension.
While the CDC has recently adjusted its recommendations to broaden its stance on how age factors into your risk of severe COVID-19, the agency maintains that it is still very much a factor. "CDC now warns that among adults, risk increases steadily as you age, and it's not just those over the age of 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness," the agency says. And for more up-to-date information delivered to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.