Written by: Jonine Möller, M.Sc. in Sport Science
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide, and while some have had mild symptoms, others have suffered severe illness or death. One question that many people have is whether genetics play a role in determining how likely someone is to have severe illness if they contract COVID-19.
Recent research has shown that there are indeed genetic factors that can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Some studies have found that certain genetic variations can impact the body's immune response to the virus, making it less effective in fighting off the infection.
Amongst the genes that influence your risk for severe COVID-19 infection is a variant in the gene that codes for ACE2. The virus enters the human body’s cells via the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Thus, variations in this gene cause alterations in the ACE2 enzyme, thereby potentially modulating the disease severity.
Other factors associated with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 include age, sex, and underlying medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. These factors can also interact with genetic variations to further increase the risk of severe illness.
It's important to note that while genetics can play a role in determining the severity of illness in COVID-19, it is not the only factor. Environmental and lifestyle factors such as smoking, lack of exercise, and poor nutrition can also impact the severity of illness.
In conclusion, while genetics can play a role in determining the risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and should be considered, it is not the only factor. People should continue to take precautions to protect themselves from the virus and reduce the risk of severe illness. Further research is still needed to fully understand the complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors in COVID-19.
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