In what they described as a groundbreaking discovery, scientists from the Medical University in the northeastern Polish city of Białystok have identified a genetic profile that makes people predisposed to a severe form of COVID-19.
The discovered genetic variant “more than doubles the risk of having severe COVID-19 and of dying from COVID-19,” the researchers say, quoted by Polish Press Agency (PAP). According to their estimation, about 9% of the European population may possess the variant in question.
The Białystok scientists arrived at their conclusions after examining 1,500 COVID-19 patients, PAP reported. The project was co-financed by the government and conducted in collaboration with about a dozen medical institutions in Poland and a technology firm called Imagene.Me.
“Today we have a special moment, a special day […] for the whole Polish science, but above all […] for the healthcare system, for the health of Poles.” health minister Adam Niedzielski hailed the discovery at Thursday’s press conference. “We managed to identify a very important risk factor when it comes to COVID-19 infection,” he stressed.
“We show that genes are a very important factor, which can decide how we see each disease, including COVID-19, but I would like to put it in the appropriate hierarchy,” Professor Marcin Moniuszko, who led the research team, told a local radio station.
“We have not shown that genes are the most important (factor). It’s never that simple. They are significant, they are in fourth place,” the scientist said.
He added that the research would enable a fairly simple test to be developed that would identify patients at high risk of serious coronavirus infection.
(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)