It appears that the severity with which Covid-19 affects individuals could be due to their genetic makeup. Indeed, our immune system is so extensive that it includes many genes, including those that encode the interferons. People with less interferon activity may be more likely to become ill. Two studies about Covid 19 genetics factors were published in October assessing the extent to which genetics affects COVID-19. In the first, Q. Zhang and colleagues found that patients with severe COVID-19 have mutations in the genes that regulate the activity of interferons. Thus, they concluded, “that genetics may determine the clinical course of the infection”. In the second study, Bastard et al. identified individuals with high levels of neutralizing autoantibodies against some interferons, also noting that these neutralizing antibodies are not present in asymptomatic individuals. Both circumstances may therefore affect the severity of Covid-19.
The finding of Covid 19 genetics factors opens a hopeful line of investigation to an effective treatment
A new study also published in Science this month concluded “Our results identify robust genetic signals relating to key host antiviral defense mechanisms, and mediators of inflammatory organ damage in Covid-19. Both mechanisms may be amenable to targeted treatment with existing drugs. Large-scale randomized clinical trials will be essential before any change to clinical practice.”