As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage the world, researchers are exploring whether certain genetic variants could give individuals immunity from or better protection from the highly contagious virus.
Recent work in the realm of genomics has identified the potential for certain gene variants, known as gene polymorphisms, to minimize the risk of infection or reduce the severity of coronavirus symptoms. Although the science is still in its infancy and the findings are preliminary, some experts believe that certain genetic predispositions may be beneficial in the face of this devastating disease.
One such gene, ACE2, has been linked to a reduced risk of severe COVID-19. This gene codes for a protein found on the surface of certain human cells that is responsible for binding to the virus, allowing it to enter the cell. The presence of certain variants of ACE2 may reduce the binding of the virus to the cells, thereby providing protection from infection.
In addition, certain gene variants of the interleukin-6 receptor have been linked to a reduced risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This receptor is responsible for signaling the body to mount an immune response to the virus. It is believed that certain variants of this receptor may reduce the intensity of the immune response, thereby reducing the severity of the illness.
It is important to note that although these gene variants may provide protection from infection or reduce the severity of disease, they are by no means a guarantee of immunity. The presence of these gene variants does not guarantee protection from the virus, and individuals with these variants may still become infected or suffer severe illness.
The research into the potential for genetic variants to provide protection from COVID-19 is ongoing, and it is not yet known how significant a role these genes may play in reducing the risk of infection or severity of illness. As our understanding of this complex virus continues to evolve, it may be possible to identify additional genes that could confer some degree of protection. Until then, however, the best way to protect oneself from the virus remains the same: practice good hygiene, wear a mask, and social distance.