Story at a glance

  • Polish scientists say they have identified a gene that more than doubles the chance someone will develop severe COVID-19.
  • The gene, researchers say, is present in about 14 percent of the Polish population.
  • Scientists hope the discovery will help doctors find patients most at risk of becoming severely ill from the virus and convincing them to get vaccinated if needed.

Polish researchers at the Medical University of Bialystok identified a gene that more than doubles a person’s chance of getting severely ill from COVID-19.  

Poland reached an unfortunate milestone earlier this week with the country’s health officials reporting the total number of COVID-19 related deaths has now surpassed 100,000 with 24,000 of those deaths occurring in the most recent omicron wave.  

The tragically high number of deaths is in large part due to vaccine hesitancy plaguing Eastern and parts of Central Europe that were once part of the former communist bloc.  


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Researchers hope that the new discovery will help physicians identify people at the most risk of developing severe COVID-19 and convincing them to get inoculated against the virus, according to Reuters.  

"After more than a year and a half of work it was possible to identify a gene responsible for a predisposition to becoming seriously ill (with coronavirus)," said Health Minister Adam Niedzielski, Reuters reported.  

"This means that in the future we will be able to... identify people with a predisposition to suffer seriously from COVID." 

Researchers say the gene was the “fourth most important fact” in determining if a person is likely to develop severe COVID-19 after age, weight and gender, the outlet reported.  

Marcin Moniuszko, one of the scientists responsible for the discovery, told Reuters that about 14 percent of people in Poland possess the gene adding the gene is present in about 9 percent of the total population of Europe and 27 percent of India.  


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Published on Jan 13, 2022