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Gene that increases risk of dying from Covid identified

Gene that increases risk of dying from Covid identified
NEW DELHI, JAN 14 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 1/14/2022 12:46:11 PM IST

Polish scientists have discovered a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of falling severely ill with, or even dying from Covid-19.

According to Bloomberg report, the Health Ministry in Warsaw expects the discovery to help identify people who are most at risk from the disease, which has already killed more than 100,000 people in Poland alone. 

It also plans to include genetic tests when it screens patients for potential Covid-19 infections as soon as the end of June.

The research from the Medical University of Bialystok estimates that the gene could be present in about 14% of the Polish population, compared with around 9% in Europe and 27% in India.  It’s the fourth most important factor determining the severity of the illness after age, weight and gender, it said. A genetic test “may help to better identify people who, in the event of an infection, may be at risk of an acute disease, even before the infection develops,” said Marcin Moniuszko, a professor in charge of the study, which was carried out with the participation of almost 1,500 Poles. 

The ministry didn’t say if the research had been peer-reviewed. The discovery may explain one of the reasons-- other than vaccination hesitancy --behind the country’s high Covid-19 death toll. 

WHO recommends two new drugs: Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday recommended the use of two new drugs for the treatment of Covid patients — baricitinib and casirivimab-imdevimab.

The drug baricitinib (a type of drug known as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis) is strongly recommended for patients with severe or critical covid-19 in combination with corticosteroids, a WHO Guideline Development Group of international experts said in the peer-reviewed journal, The BMJ.

The WHO experts note that baricitinib has similar effects to other arthritis drugs called interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors. So, when both are available, they suggest choosing one based on cost, availability, and clinician experience. It is not recommended to use both drugs at the same time.

However, the experts advise against the use of two other JAK inhibitors (ruxolitinib and tofacitinib) for patients with severe or critical Covid-19 because low certainty evidence from small trials failed to show benefit and suggests a possible increase in serious side effects with tofacitinib.

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