Just five genes are linked to the SEVEREST form of Covid-19, scientists find

Only five genes are linked to the severest form of Covid-19, according to scientists who studied DNA of 2,700 Covid-19 patients in 208 intensive care units across the United Kingdom.

The five genes involve two molecular processes that were central to many severe cases – antiviral immunity and lung inflammation.

“Our results immediately highlight which drugs should be at the top of the list for clinical testing,” said Kenneth Baillie, an academic consultant in critical care medicine at the Edinburgh University who co-led the research.

The genes called IFNAR2, TYK2, OAS1, DPP9 and CCR2 partially explain why some people become desperately sick with COVID-19, while others are not affected, Baillie said.

The findings, published in the journal Nature, should help scientists speed up the search for potential drugs for COVID-19 by conducting clinical trials of medicines that target specific antiviral and anti-inflammatory pathways.

So far, a steroid called dexamethasone and a newly developed antiviral called remdesivir, made by Gilead, are the only drugs authorised around the world to treat COVID-19 patients – although remdesivir is not recommended for severe cases of the disease and has had mixed results in trials.

Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration approved Eli Lilly’s antibody-drug for COVID-19, bamlanivimab, for patients who are not hospitalized but are at risk of serious illness because of their age or other conditions.

Also the team found that INFAR2 gene could create protection against Covid-19  because it is likely to mimic the effect of treatment with interferon.