OU College Of Medicine Researcher Sheds Light On Connection Between Genes, COVID-19

Friday, August 27th 2021, 6:22 pm
By: Erica Rankin


A researcher at the OU College of Medicine has weighed in on a large genetics and COVID-19 study that was recently completed.  

The study found 13 genes which could play a role in contracting the virus and how severe someone's battle with COVID-19 could be.

"Some people get COVID and nothing happens,” said Dr. Dharambir Sanghera, Professor of Pediatric Genetics at the OU College of Medicine. "And they are asymptomatic. Some people, the disease gets so aggravated, and they get so severely sick they end up in hospitals and sometimes after hospitals people end up dying."

The answer as to why, Sanghera said, could lie in genetics.  

"This is the first time we are seeing this association," Dr. Sanghera said.

Some of the genes found could slightly protect people from getting infected, such as having Type O blood, which has been predicted before.

However, 13 were found to predispose some more than others to more severe cases of covid-19, especially genes like obesity

"All the diabetes is also linked to severity of COVID," Dr. Sanghera said.

She said Oklahoma's poor health track record has played a role in the outcomes in the state and in the U.S.

"We are ranked second in chronic respiratory diseases and ranked four in cancer diabetes and obesity," Dr. Sanghera said.

Dr. Sanghera also said more genetic studies need to be completed to understand who is at the highest risk.