What genetic factors are associated with the development of COVID-19?

Corona, Coronavirus, Virus, Blood, Plasma, Blood Plasma

Bottom Line:

Genetics play a role in how patients respond to COVID-19. For instance, type A blood may put patients at a greater risk for developing severe disease, while type O blood may be protective.


Ellinghaus, D. et al. Genomewide Association Study of Severe Covid-19 with Respiratory Failure. New England Journal of Medicine (2020). https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2020283

Date Published:

17 June 2020


Some patients who develop COVID-19 become very sick, while others do not. To see whether genetic factors may be linked with the development of more severe COVID-19, researchers analyzed the genes of 2000 patients with severe COVID-19 disease and compared them to the genes of healthy patients. Their analysis revealed that variations in two stretches of DNA were associated with likelihood of severe disease. The first stretch of DNA included a cluster of six different genes, some of which play a role in the immune system. The other one included a cluster of genes that determine our blood type. Further analysis revealed that people with type A blood may be at greater risk of developing more severe disease, while type O blood may protect people from more severe disease. The results of this study support previous ideas that people have variable genetic susceptibility to the disease, and that these genetic variations should warrant further investigation.

Summary by: Louis Huynh