Gene hunters turn up new clues to help explain why Covid-19 hits some people so hard

On March 16, 2020, five days after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, took to Twitter to make an announcement: “We are launching the COVID-19 host genetics initiative,” he wrote. He asked other scientists to join him and institute director Mark Daly in probing the world’s stores of human DNA to help answer a complicated but pressing question: Why do some unlucky people infected by the coronavirus end up gasping for air in an intensive care unit, while many others catch and spread the disease without having so much as a cough?

Ganna wasn’t quite prepared for how many would take him up on the offer. Over the last 15 months, more than 3,300 researchers from 25 countries have poured data from millions of people, including more than 125,000 COVID-19 patients, into the initiative, making it one of the largest gene-hunting missions in history.

Read the rest…