A group of over 120 researchers from various institutions across Europe has performed the first genome-wide association study to reveal host genetic factors that may contribute to respiratory failure in cases of coronavirus disease 209 (COVID-19).
The authors say the genetic variants they have identified could help guide further research into the pathophysiology of COVID-19 and aid the clinical risk profiling of patients.
A pre-print version of the paper is available on the server medRxiv*, while the article undergoes peer review.
The rapid spread of the pandemic
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began in Wuhan, China, late last year, it has rapidly become a pandemic health emergency that has now infected more than 6.39 million people worldwide and killed almost 400,000.
In Europe, Italy and Spain have been among the most severely affected countries, with epidemics peaking during the second half of February and more than 60,000 fatal cases being reported by May 28th.
Most people infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) – the causative agent of COVID-19 – only experience mild or even no symptoms.
Mortality rates are mainly driven by patients who are more susceptible to respiratory failure after becoming ill with pneumonia or respiratory distress syndrome. However, for reasons that are not properly understood, this is only the case for less than 10 percent of people who become infected with SARS-CoV-2.