It’s not just pre-existing conditions that can skyrocket your risk of developing severe COVID. According to a new study, a factor only detectable in your blood could be the key to determining how debilitating your COVID symptoms become. Read on to find out what could put you at risk for a severe case of COVID. And if you’re anxious for the pandemic to be left behind, COVID will “almost disappear” by this date, says the Johns Hopkins physician.
According to a January 2021 study published in the journal Genetics in Medicine, people without a particular type of natural killer (NK) cell receptor in the blood are more likely to develop severe cases of COVID than those who do. When the specific NKG2C receptor identified by the researchers is missing, which normally binds to the HLA-E antigen in the bloodstream to destroy virus-infected cells, a person’s risk of developing severe COVID is significantly increased.
The study found that about four percent of the population is completely lacking the NKG2C receptor, while 30 percent have an NKG2C receptor that is not fully available and as such may provide inadequate protection when fighting COVID.
“The absence of the receptor was particularly common in COVID-19 patients treated in intensive care units, regardless of age or sex.” Elisabeth Puchhammer-Stöckl, MD, lead author of the study, said in a statement. “Genetic variations in the HLA-E of the infected cell were also associated with the severity of the disease, although to a lesser extent.”
However, that’s not the only thing that can increase or decrease your chance of having a severe case of COVID; Read on to find out what other factors could put you at risk. And to learn more about your risk, see If you’ve done this recently, you’re 70 percent more likely to get COVID.
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