Still never had Covid? Thank your genes: Three in 10 people have a gene that blocks infection

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Still never had Covid? Thank your genes: Three in 10 people have a genetic quirk that blocks infection

  • People escaping Covid infection might have a special gene to help them
  • The gene HLA-DQB1*06 will give people more antibodies after Covid shots
  • Roughly 30 to 40 per cent of people have the lucky gene, scientists said

Some people might never get Covid thanks to their genes, scientists say.

Researchers from the University of Oxford have found that people who have a particular mutation produce a larger antibody response after getting vaccinated.

Around 30 to 40 per cent of people have the gene, known as HLA-DQB1*06. The boosted protection might be enough to block out infections entirely.

It may partly explain why some people never get the virus, even when family members come down with the virus. 

The US has the highest number of confirmed cases of any country in the world at 179million, the equivalent of more than half of the entire population.

This is likely an underestimate, however, because testing was patchy at the start of the outbreak and some people never take a test.

Yet, anecdotally there are many stories of people whose entire families come down with the virus and they avoid an infection – even after sharing a bed with someone who is sick.

This group of people have been dubbed ‘never Covid’ and scientists have never quite worked out how they managed it.

The 'never Covid' group might have a gene called HLA-DQB1*06 which gives them even better protection after Covid shots

The ‘never Covid’ group might have a gene called HLA-DQB1*06 which gives them even better protection after Covid shots

Lead researcher Dr Alexander Mentzer said: ‘We have seen a wide variation in how quickly people test positive for Covid after vaccination.

‘Our findings suggest that our genetic code may influence how likely this is to happen over time.’

The scientists examined blood samples from people in five different trials, which looked at 1,600 adults who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as their initial shot.

Individuals with the gene had more antibodies – proteins that protect against foreign invaders – in their blood compared to those without the quirk.

They also looked at a collection of people who took Covid tests every week for over a year since their first shot.

People with the HLA-DQB1*06 gene were more unlikely to suffer a ‘breakthrough infection’ over the 12 months — where people came down with mild Covid symptoms post-shot.

Co-lead researcher Professor Julian Knight added: ‘From this study we have evidence that our genetic make-up is one of the reasons why we may differ from each other in our immune response following Covid vaccination.’

The findings were published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Now scientists say ‘exercise intolerance’ should be considered a symptom of long Covid 

Exercise ‘intolerance’ should be considered an official symptom of long Covid, scientists say.

A review of existing studies found the condition — which is still not fully understood — can rob people of the equivalent of a decade’s worth of physical fitness.

The finding adds to a long list of symptoms associated with long Covid — the name for signs of illness that linger months after a Coronavirus infection. 

Previous studies have found headaches, fatigue and brain fog to be the most common ailments, but anecdotally people say they also struggle to exercise.

Working out if long Covid is the true culprit for these problems has proven tricky, given how commonplace these symptoms are.

Professor Matthew Durstenfeld, a cardiologist at the University of California in San Francisco, who led the new review, said there was definitely ‘something going on’.

His team looked at endurance capacity in people with long Covid and compared them to people of similar ages who recovered from the virus.

They found long Covid sufferers performed worse, and had the stamina of someone a decade younger.




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