Scientists Discover Genetic, Immunological Reasons for Severe COVID-19 Cases

A new study reveals why some people get sicker than others with COVID-19. It also explains why more men die from the disease than women.

The scientists found some people have antibodies that actually attack the immune system instead of the virus. They also discovered 3.5% of people who develop severe complications from COVID-19 carry a genetic mutation that negatively impacts their immunity.

According to The National Institutes of Health, these are the first public findings of a global project that aims to discover the reason why some people are more resistant to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The researchers discovered among 660 people with severe COVID-19, “a significant number of them carried rare gene variants in 13 genes known to be critical in the body’s defense against the influenza virus, and more than 3.5% were missing a functioning gene.”

These groups of people were not able to produce type 1 interferon, a set of 17 proteins that help the body defend against viruses. Furthermore, researchers examined 1,000 patients with severe COVID-19 complications and found 10% of them had autoantibodies against interferons when they became infected, and 95% of those patients were men. Auto-antibodies also block the activity of interferon 1, according to the study.

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