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Are there genetic factors to COVID-19 disease?

Text updated on 2020-04-29

It is possible that genetic factors may make some people susceptible or resistant to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. This is a hypothesis that has been tested by researchers, but not yet proven.

Infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has highly variable effects. Many people develop no symptoms at all, others develop mild flu-like symptoms, some people have to be hospitalized for respiratory distress, and less than 1% of infected people die. Why is COVID-19 so heterogeneous? The progression of a viral disease depends not only on the pathogenicity of the virus, but also on the susceptibility or resistance of the infected organism. Among the risk factors for the development of a severe form of the disease, researchers are interested in genetic factors. For other viral infections, genes have been identified that confer resistance to HIV (in the disease of AIDS), Norovirus (in the disease of acute gastroenteritis), or susceptibility to varicella-zoster virus (in the disease of encephalitis) and hepatitis A virus (in the disease of fulminant viral hepatitis). Research is underway to identify genetic factors that could be associated with asymptomatic or severe cases of COVID-19, and thus better understand each patient's specific risk of developing the disease.

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