• Queen Mary University of London
  • Barts Health NHS
  • Bradford NHS
  • Manchester Uni

COVID-19: Genes & Health contributes to international host genetics research

The pandemic COVID-19 has severely affected minority ethnic groups in the UK. Genes & Health is investigating this, including whether genetic make-up influences these ethnic differences..

Many people have mild COVID-19, some have no symptoms at all, whereas others develop very severe symptoms including hospitalisation and in some cases death. This might also be explained by genetic differences in people. Genes & Health is investigating this question.

As of 5 May 2020, over 100 previous Genes & Health volunteers have tested positive (pharyngeal swab RNA qt-PCR test) for COVID-19. We have data from Barts Health NHS pathology, and from Bradford NHS pathology. We are about to link to national Public Health England testing. Unfortunately over 50 Genes & Health volunteers have been admitted as inpatients with severe covid-19 symptoms, and we are sad to report that some volunteers have died. Our thoughts are with their relatives and families.

Genes & Health has submitted genetic data on volunteers with covid-19 based on our 30,000 volunteers who already have genetic data. We are contributing to an international effort to identify genetic causes, which includes data from Finland (Finngen study), The Netherlands (Lifelines Study), New York (BioMe) and UK Biobank. Genes & Health has twice submitted data at end April, and again on 5 May 2020. We are committed to making summary results available openly to the scientific community. Data and further details can be found on The COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative website (https://www.covid19hg.org).

The first round of data analysis is described here https://www.covid19hg.org/blog/2020-04-30-first-round-of-meta-analysis-results/

By taking part in Genes & Health, volunteers can help address through research health inequalities in British south Asians, such as heart disease, diabetes and now, unfortunately,  COVID-19.

Principal Investigator: David van Heel (Queen Mary University of London)

Co-Investigators: Karen Hunt (Queen Mary University of London), Bhavi Trivedi (Queen Mary University of London), Qinqin Huang (Wellcome Sanger Institute), Richard Trembath (Kings College London).