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What Genetics Can—and Cannot—Reveal about an Individual’s COVID Risk

Genetics and covid

Genome-wide association studies can sleuth out genetic markers that raise or lower COVID risk, but they miss social factors

Imagine taking a genetic test that could tell you your personal risk of developing complications and dying from a particular disease, such as cancer, heart attack or even COVID. A version of such a test exists—albeit an imperfect one.

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) are becoming an increasingly common avenue to assess COVID risk. The approach holds potential for fighting the disease by identifying the locations, or loci, on the human genome that put an individual at higher or lower risk for severe disease. Scientists hope it may eventually unlock the door for new forms of treatment.

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