- A new study says one preexisting medical condition that is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 can also reduce the risk of infection from the novel coronavirus.
- Researchers from Israel found that asthma patients are 30% less likely to contract the illness. But asthma is included as a risk factor in guidelines covering severe COVID-19.
- The scientists have no idea why asthma might reduce the risk of infection, but they have three theories that might explain the findings.
The novel coronavirus is unlike any other infectious disease roaming the planet, surprising us with all sorts of unexpected developments along the way. The virus can incubate for up to 14 days before the onset of symptoms, and the signs of COVID-19 aren’t specific enough to allow a clinical diagnosis. You might suspect a coronavirus infection, but only a PCR test will confirm it. That’s if you get any symptoms to begin with, since not everyone who catches COVID-19 will actually show any symptoms. On top of that, people who are symptomatic don’t always develop the same course of infection. Some will have milder signs similar to the common cold, while others will experience all sorts of unusual symptoms that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with an infectious disease. Some of those symptoms will then linger for several weeks even months in some survivors, long after the virus is cleared.
If all that doesn’t sound strange or confusing, then the following COVID-19 study will certainly leave you scratching your head. It appears as though one preexisting condition that’s a risk factor for severe COVID-19 might also shield some people from catching the virus in the first place.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 13 Americans has asthma. The airways can swell in response to irritants from the air, and this can lead to severe breathing issues that can be deadly. Asthma isn’t curable, but it’s treatable, and not all those affected suffer from a severe case.
Asthma is included in the CDC’s COVID-19 guidelines about medical conditions that can complicate the infection. According to the agency, adults of any age suffering from asthma might be at risk of developing a moderate-to-severe case of covid. The CDC has detailed instructions for asthma patients dealing with COVID-19.
But new researchers from Israel now says people with asthma are 30% less likely to get infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the first place. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed fewer asthma patients infected with the new coronavirus than expected in the cohort of people that was studied.
Researchers from the Leumit Health Services analyzed data for 37,569 people who were tested for coronavirus between February 1st and June 30th. Only 2,266 of them had positive diagnoses, of which 153 (6.75%) had asthma. Comparatively, 3,388 people in the group had asthma, or 9.62%. The conclusion was that asthma patients might be 30% less likely to contract the coronavirus.
There’s no clear explanation for the finding, and more research will be needed to confirm the conclusions. But the study does seem to confirm findings from other COVID-19 research. Reports from China and Italy said that very few COVID-19 patients had asthma. Only 9% of COVID-19 patients hospitalized in New York and 14% in the UK had asthma. But researchers note the prevalence data only concerns hospitalized patients. It’s unclear whether the same phenomenon can be observed among COVID-19 cases in people who are never hospitalized.
Study researcher Dr. Eugene Merzon told The Jerusalem Post there are three possible explanations for the findings.
First, asthma patients have fewer ACE2 receptors in the lungs, and those are the receptors the coronavirus needs to enter cells. Second, asthma patients are more likely to suffer from severe COVID-19, which is a paradox — but they’re also more likely to observe health measures meant to reduce the risk of infection, including face masks, social distancing, and good hygiene. Third, many asthma patients carry inhalers containing corticosteroids, which could stop the virus from replicating if it does enter the throat or lungs.
Chris Smith started writing about gadgets as a hobby, and before he knew it he was sharing his views on tech stuff with readers around the world. Whenever he’s not writing about gadgets he miserably fails to stay away from them, although he desperately tries. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.