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Gene that doubles the risk of severe COVID-19 discovered in Poland

WARSAW – Polish scientists have discovered a gene they say more than doubles the risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, a finding they hope could help doctors identify those most at risk to contract the disease.

As vaccine reluctance is a major contributor to high coronavirus death rates in central and eastern Europe, researchers hope that identifying those most at risk will encourage them to get vaccinated and provide them with access to treatment options. more intensive treatment in case of infection.

“After more than a year and a half of work, it has been possible to identify a gene responsible for a predisposition to fall seriously ill (with the coronavirus),” said Minister of Health Adam Niedzielski.

“This means that in the future we will be able (…) to identify people at risk of severely suffering from COVID.”

Researchers at Bialystok Medical University have found that the gene is the fourth most important factor determining how badly a person suffers from COVID-19, after age, weight and gender.

The gene is present in around 14% of the Polish population, compared to 8-9% in Europe as a whole and 27% in India, said Marcin Moniuszko, professor in charge of the project.

Other studies have also shown the importance of genetic factors in the severity of the development of COVID-19.

In November, British scientists said they had identified a version of a gene that may be associated with double the risk of lung failure from COVID-19.