We present here genetic risk factors for survivability from infection by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) responsible for coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). At the time of writing it is too early to determine comprehensively and without doubt all risk factors, but there is an urgency due to the global pandemic crisis that merits this early analysis. We have nonetheless discovered 5 novel risk variants in 4 genes, discovered by examining 193 deaths from 1,412 confirmed infections in a group of 5,871 UK Biobank participants tested for the virus. We also examine the distribution of these genetic variants across broad ethnic groups and compare it to data from the UK Office of National Statistics for increased risk of death from SARS-CoV-2. We confidently identify the gene ERAP2 with a high-risk variant, as well as three other genes of potential interest. Although mostly rare, a common theme of genetic risk factors affecting survival might be the inability to launch or modulate an effective immune and stress response to infection from the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Competing Interest Statement
This work was supported by the Medical Research Council, as part of United Kingdom Research and Innovation (also known as UK Research and Innovation) [MC_UP_1201/14].
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