Over the last six months, health officials have seen those individuals infected by the novel coronavirus present with symptoms ranging from mild to deadly. Now, the data from two recent studies may indicate the reason for the wide range of symptoms.
Researchers have found that those cases presenting as life-threatening share a common ground in that they can be traced back to the patient's immune system having what they term a “weak spot.”
Of those patients studied that presented with severe COVID-19, the disease that is known to cause the novel coronavirus, at least 3.5% showed to have a mutation in those genes that were linked to antiviral defense.
The study also showed that at least 10% of those with a severe case of the disease was able to create "auto-antibodies" that served to attack the person's immune system, rather than playing a role in fighting the virus.
The results proved to identify some of the root causes which make COVID-19 so life-threatening. They also provide a plausible explanation as to why COVID-19 may be life-threatening for some individuals, while others infected by the same virus experience little to no symptoms.
A team from Rockefeller University was tasked with conducting the eye-opening research. The research team started enrolling patients with COVID-19 for their study as far back as February.
The research consisted of analyzing young people who had contracted a severe form of the virus and conduct tests to determine whether these individuals may have any underlying weaknesses in their immune systems, which would then make them significantly more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.
As the analysis of the samples from patients began, a disturbing trend developed. It was discovered that there was a harmful mutation in the patients, both young and old alike. Of the 659 patients involved in the study, the team found that 23 of them had errors in the genes they carried that involved antiviral interferons' production.
In those individuals who do not have a full complement of the antiviral defenders, the fending off of COVID-19 would not be possible, according to what the research team suspected.
The team has now turned from the search for those factors that prove to make patients more susceptible to contracting COVID-19, and are instead setting their sights on the opposite—those factors on a genetic level that might prove as protective.
Do you believe that the answer to COVID-19 may very well lie on a genetic level?