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British scientists tackle COVID-19 genetic mystery

British scientists will examine the genes of thousands of COVID-19 patients in a bid to unravel one of the strangest features of the new coronavirus - why it kills some people and in others it doesn't cause even a slight headache, Reuters reported.
Scientists across the UK are set out to track the genetic code of patients who developed to a critical extent COVID-19 and compare it to the genome of people who have become ill mildly or who have become infected but have not been ill at all, BTA reported.

In search of specific genes that create a predisposition to disease from COVID-19, up to 20,000 people who have now or before been treated in intensive care by COVID-19 and about 15,000 people with mild symptoms of the disease will be examined.

Scientists warn that their knowledge of the new coronavirus that appeared in China late last year is still modest, and yet they note that it is striking how it can be deadly to some people and almost harmless to others. The reasons for this are not yet known.

"We think there will be traces in the genome that will help us understand why the disease kills,” says Kenneth Bailey, an intensive care doctor who led the study at the University of Edinburgh. “I would bet my house on that there is a powerful genetic component in individual risk,” he adds.

British Health Minister Matt Hancock urged people to get involved in the research. “If you are invited to join the research conducted by Genomics England,” please get involved because that's how we will understand genetic connections. This is all part of creating the scientific portrait of the virus,” he said.

The survey of two thousand people is already underway and we may have some answers within a few weeks, Bailey said. The results of the study will be distributed throughout the world.

"The likelihood of dying from infection is heavily encoded in your genes, much more distinctly than the likelihood of dying from heart disease or cancer,” Bailey said. /

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