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Science magazine: studies to determine which patients are most genetically susceptible to the novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2 are rushing ahead

2020-03-31

(image courtesy of pixabay.com and TheDigitalArtist)

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports that an article in Science magazine (paywall, sorry) details current efforts to find out which people are most genetically susceptible to severe infections with the novel coronavirus.

Research efforts include looking at variations in gene coding for the angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), an enzyme on the outer surface of cells, that could affect how easily the coronavirus can enter targeted cells, as well as differences in the human leucocyte [sic] antigen genes that influence how the immune system responds to viruses, according to a report in Science magazine.

Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the University of Helsinki’s Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, has led the International Covid-19 Host Genetics Initiative to gather genetic data from patients. The team compares patients with mild infections to those with severe cases. He said he expected the first susceptibility genes to be identified within a few months.

So far, we have found that those with Type A blood are more susceptible than those with Type O, according to another SCMP article.  Type O is found in an average of 33% of people in the world, with type A at 25% and B at 27%.  Only 6.5% have type AB.  Chile, with type O at 86%, and Peru with 70%, are outliers in the world spectrum.  Japan has about 40% type A.  (Figures from babymed.com)

The fact that almost a third of infections are asymptomatic is surely a coincidence, despite the nearly identical 1/3 prevalence of type O across the world.

A rumor has been floating around that the high use of chloroquine for malaria prophylaxis in Africa has conferred protection from the pandemic there.  This is dubious because the virus simply hasn’t found its way to Africa yet.  Don’t believe anything you read that has not been adequately evaluated with a skeptical eye.

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