A first update on mapping the human genetic architecture of COVID-19

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A first update on mapping the human genetic architecture of COVID-19


COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative

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Epub 2022 Aug 3



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The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a major public health threat, especially in countries with low vaccination rates. To better understand the biological underpinnings of SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 severity, we formed the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative1. Here we present a genome-wide association study meta-analysis of up to 125,584 cases and over 2.5 million control individuals across 60 studies from 25 countries, adding 11 genome-wide significant loci compared with those previously identified2. Genes at new loci, including SFTPD, MUC5B and ACE2, reveal compelling insights regarding disease susceptibility and severity.

Here we present meta-analyses bringing together 60 studies from 25 countries (Fig. 1 and Supplementary Table 1) for three COVID-19-related phenotypes: (1) individuals critically ill with COVID-19 on the basis of requiring respiratory support in hospital or who died as a consequence of the disease (9,376 cases, of which 3,197 are new in this data release, and 1,776,645 control individuals); (2) individuals with moderate or severe COVID-19 defined as those hospitalized due to symptoms associated with the infection (25,027 cases, 11,386 new and 2,836,272 control individuals); and (3) all cases with reported SARS-CoV-2 infection regardless of symptoms (125,584 cases, 76,022 new and 2,575,347 control individuals). Most studies have reported results before the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign. An overview of the study design is provided in Supplementary Fig. 1. We found a total of 23 genome-wide significant loci (P < 5 × 10−8) of which 20 loci remain significant after correction for multiple testing (P < 1.67 × 10−8) to account for the number of phenotypes examined (Fig. 2, Supplementary Fig. 2 and Supplementary Table 2). We compared the effects of these loci between the previous2 and current analysis and found that only one locus did not replicate (rs72711165). All of the other loci showed the expected increase in statistical significance (Supplementary Fig. 3).