The SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, has been associated globally with substantial morbidity and mortality. Numerous reports over the past year have described the clinical and immunological profiles of COVID-19 patients, and while some trends have emerged for risk stratification, they do not provide a complete picture. Therefore, efforts are ongoing to identify genetic susceptibility factors of severe disease. In this issue of the JCI, Povysil et al. performed a large, multiple-country study, sequencing genomes from patients with mild and severe COVID-19, along with population controls. Contrary to previous reports, the authors observed no enrichment of predicted loss-of-function variants in genes in the type I interferon pathway, which might predispose to severe disease. These studies suggest that more evidence is needed to substantiate the hypothesis for a genetic immune predisposition to severe COVID-19, and highlights the importance of considering experimental design when implicating a monogenic basis for severe disease.
Chris Cotsapas, Janna Saarela, Jocelyn R. Farmer, Vinod Scaria, Roshini S. Abraham