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Covid-19: Polish scientists find gene that could identify at-risk patients

Medical staff members treat patients inside the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ward at the Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration in Warsaw, Poland REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (REUTERS)Premium
Medical staff members treat patients inside the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) ward at the Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of Interior and Administration in Warsaw, Poland REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (REUTERS)

With vaccine hesitancy a major factor behind high coronavirus death rates in central and eastern Europe, researchers hope that identifying those at greatest risk will encourage them to get a shot 

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WARSAW : Polish scientists have found a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19, a discovery they hope could help doctors identify people who are most at risk from the disease.

With vaccine hesitancy a major factor behind high coronavirus death rates in central and eastern Europe, researchers hope that identifying those at greatest risk will encourage them to get a shot and give them access to more intensive treatment options in case of an infection.

"After more than a year and a half of work it was possible to identify a gene responsible for a predisposition to becoming seriously ill (with coronavirus)," said Health Minister Adam Niedzielski.

"This means that in the future we will be able to... identify people with a predisposition to suffer seriously from COVID."

The researchers from the Medical University of Bialystok found that the gene was the fourth most important factor determining how seriously a person suffers from COVID-19, after age, weight and gender.

The gene is present in around 14% of the Polish population, compared to 8-9% in Europe as a whole and 27% in India, said Marcin Moniuszko, the professor in charge of the project.

Other studies have also shown the importance of genetic factors in how seriously COVID-19 develops.

In November, British scientists https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/gene-linked-doubling-risk-covid-19-death-found-by-uk-scientists-2021-11-05 said they had identified a version of a gene that may be associated with double the risk of lung failure from COVID-19. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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