In a new study, medical scientists believe they have found a connection between a common variation in our genetic makeup and how our bodies respond to a COVID-19 infection.
The study was led by researchers at Yale and looked at the “common genetic variants in the immune cytokine macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF).” These variants are present in about 20% of the population.
Researchers examined 1,177 patients in the U.S., Hungary, and Spain. They found that while patients with the MIF gene variant were less likely to contract COVID-19, they were more likely to develop serious illness resulting in hospitalization.
This information won’t stop the spread of COVID-19 but it has other applications.
“Knowledge of this gene variation can identify patients who need to be monitored and treated more aggressively to prevent severe illness,” said Jenny Shin, MD, Ph.D. Shin is the study’s lead author and an assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine.
Shin told the Yale School of Medicine that the infection and hospitalization rates based on the MIF variant happened regardless of age, sex, or other factors.
“The genetic information also could benefit the prioritization of health resources in different parts of the world in future pandemics,” said Shin.