Day: June 4, 2020

Genes May Leave Some People More Vulnerable to Severe Covid-19

Why do some people infected with the coronavirus suffer only mild symptoms, while others become deathly ill?

Geneticists have been scouring our DNA for clues. Now, a study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

Variations at two spots in the human genome are associated with an increased risk of respiratory failure in patients with Covid-19, the researchers found. One of these spots includes the gene that determines blood types.

Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

The study was equally striking for the genes that failed to turn up. The coronavirus attaches to a protein called ACE2 on the surface of human cells in order to

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E.R. Visits Drop Sharply During Pandemic

“This is a national concern that patients are worried that the hospitals, health care systems, physician offices could be more dangerous than grocery stores, hardware stores and other essential businesses,” said Dr. Balcezak, although he emphasized there was no evidence that the risks were any higher in hospitals.

In some cases, patients may be opting for virtual visits or some other alternative, said Dr. Stephen Klasko, the chief executive of Jefferson Health, who has seen the declines in visits across all of the system’s hospitals. But in other cases, patients are forgoing needed care, he said. “The real key here is virtual triage,” Dr. Klasko said, where someone who feels dizzy or has chest pain can find out if a trip to the emergency room is warranted.

Hospitals are taking numerous steps to ensure patients remain safe from infection, said Dr. William Jaquis, an emergency room doctor who is the

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First-Time Gun Owners at Risk for Suicide, Major Study Confirms

By linking gun purchases to the voter registry and suicide data, the team was able to track individuals over time, from October 2004 to December 2016. The researchers checked gun purchases back to 1985 to make sure that individuals in the study were in fact first-time buyers. They also reclassified those who later sold their weapons as non-owners.

This left 676,425 people who bought their first gun during the 12-year period and kept it. The weapons were predominantly handguns, which are the method of choice in about three-quarters of suicides by firearm. California did not begin collecting data on rifles and shotguns until 2014.

The team tallied the suicides among new owners and non-owners, matched by age, gender and other similarities, and tested for a series of alternate possibilities, like whether owners were as likely to kill themselves by other means. They were not.

Another possibility was so-called reverse causation:

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