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Faulty immune system caused by genetic defects tied to severe COVID-19

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Why do some people get mild COVID-19, while others become extremely sick or even die?

The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is the source of COVID-19, a sickness that ravaged the planet in 2020 and has resulted in over 500 million infections and 5 million deaths to date.

The majority of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 do not develop severe symptoms. Despite this, male gender, old age, pre-existing cardiac disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, and obesity have all been recognized as risk factors for severe and even fatal COVID-19.

However, given that many old persons have been documented to have a mild or asymptomatic disease, and that some young, seemingly healthy individuals might suffer severe morbidity or mortality, these characteristics account for only a small portion of the risk. 

Contrary to the last global pandemic caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), humans do not demonstrate a species-level vulnerability to SARS-CoV-2, but rather some individuals exhibit a risk that is significantly greater than the risk experienced by the typical human.

According to Australian researchers, this could be due to undiagnosed immunodeficiencies (faulty immune systems) in individuals who do become critically ill.

They discovered genetic defects that impair the immune system in patients with life-threatening COVID-19 and estimate that these mutations may account for between 3% and 5% of all severe COVID-19 cases in those under the age of 70.

They further claim that immune-system-related antibodies that prevent the body from properly battling COVID-19 were detected in roughly 20% of severe COVID-19 cases in people under the age of 70, as well as 20% of patients who died from the disease.

They suggest that immunodeficiency-targeted therapies may be useful in preventing COVID-19 from becoming severe in persons with these problems.

Image Credit: Getty

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