Polish scientists find gene that doubles risk of serious COVID

Medical staff members treat patients inside the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ward at the Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration in Warsaw, Poland, January 11, 2022. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

WARSAW, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Polish scientists have found a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, a discovery they hope could help doctors identify people who are most at risk from the disease.

With vaccine hesitancy a major factor behind high coronavirus death rates in central and eastern Europe, researchers hope that identifying those at greatest risk will encourage them to get a shot and give them access to more intensive treatment options in case of an infection.

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

“This means that in the future we will be able to… identify people with a predisposition to suffer seriously from COVID.”

The researchers from the Medical University of Bialystok found that the gene was the fourth most important factor determining how seriously a person suffers from COVID-19, after age, weight and gender.

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