It is generally accepted that COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is caused by an infection with the virus SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). The virus enters human cells via a protein coding gene known as ACE2 (angiotensin converting enzyme 2). It is also largely accepted that COVID can affect different people in different ways, ranging from asymptomatic infection to severe disease, which can include respiratory failure and death. Some studies note, “risk factors for severe COVID-19 include male sex, older age, ethnicity, obesity and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, among others.”1 2 3 4
Additionally, genetic factors have been shown to play a role in a person’s susceptibility to infection with SARS-CoV-2 and to developing severe symptoms of COVID.
Studies Suggest Genetic Factors Determine Reactions to COVID
Numerous studies have been undertaken to try and understand how host genetic factors can predispose someone to COVID. One study, for example, published in the journal Biochemistry and Biophysics Reports in December 2020 investigated how different “coding variants” of ACE2 among certain populations decreased or increased the SARS-CoV-2/ACE2 “electrostatic attention” or “binding energy.”2 5 6
The authors stated:
Here, we combined ACE2 coding variants’ analysis in different populations and computational chemistry calculations to probe the effects on SARS-CoV-2/ACE2 interaction. ACE2-K26R; which is most frequent in Ashkenazi Jewish population decreased the SARS-CoV-2/ACE2 electrostatic attraction. On the contrary, ACE2-I468V, R219C, K341R, D206G, G211R increased the electrostatic attraction; ordered by binding strength from weakest to strongest. The aforementioned variants are most frequent in East Asian, South Asian, African and African American, European, European and South Asian populations, respectively.6
In another study published in the journal BMC Medicine in July 2020, researchers investigated genetic susceptibility to COVID by examining DNA polymorphisms (two or more variant forms) in ACE2 and the gene TMPRSS2 (transmembrane protease, serine 2). They identified 63 “potentially deleterious” variants in ACE2 and 68 “deleterious” variants in TMPRSS2, and they found that the “distribution of deleterious variants in ACE2” differs among nine populations. The researchers wrote:
Specifically, 39% (24/61) and 54% (33/61) of deleterious variants in ACE2 occur in African/African-American (AFR) and Non-Finnish European (EUR) populations, respectively Prevalence of deleterious variants among Latino/Admixed American (AMR), East Asian (EAS), Finnish (FIN), and South Asian (SAS) populations is 2–10%, while Amish (AI) and Ashkenazi Jewish (ASJ) populations do not appear to carry such variants in ACE2 coding regions.7
There are many other similar studies that indicate that genetic factors within different geographic and ethnic groups can play a role in the susceptibility of these populations to SARS-CoV-2 infection and the manifestation of COVID symptoms. This may explain why COVID has affected certain people disproportionately.8 9 10
Biology Can Also Determine Reactions to Other Diseases, Toxins and Vaccination
This realization, however, should come as no great surprise. After all, we are all different genetically, epigenetically. Consequently, each of us can react differently to diseases, environmental toxins and medical interventions such as vaccination.
“Each one of us is born with different genes and a unique microbiome influenced by epigenetics that affects how we respond to diseases and pharmaceutical products like vaccines,” says Barbara Loe Fisher, co-founder and president of the National Vaccine Information Center.11
One of the best examples of how genetic variation can determine the susceptibility of a race or ethnic group to disease is sickle-cell disease, which is more common in African and Mediterranean populations than in northern European populations. The opposite is the case for the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis and the condition known as hemochromatosis (iron overload).12
According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the chances of a woman developing breast cancer can be determined by her ethnic background. For example, white and black women are more likely to get breast cancer than Asian/Pacific Islander or Hispanic women.13
We are biologically diverse, and that can be a strength or a weakness, depending on the threats we face. This has perhaps never been more true than with the COVID pandemic and the COVID shots.
Many people, regardless of their limited exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or vaccination status, came down with COVID. On the other hand, there were many people who, despite heavy exposure to SARS-CoV-2, never got COVID. “There are numerous examples of couples in which one partner got seriously ill, and the spouse was taking care of them yet did not get infected,” said András Spaan, MD, PhD, a clinical microbiologist at the St. Giles Laboratory of Human Genetics of Infectious Diseases at New York’s Rockefeller University.14
The same can be said for the COVID shots. Approximately 81 percent of the people in the United States received at least one dose of the available COVID shots. Some 70 percent of the people in the U.S. were “fully vaccinated,” meaning at least two doses or equivalent. Many of those people experienced no noticeable short-term harm from the shots. However, many of them did and were left with Long COVID Vaccination Syndrome (LCVS) or died.15 16 17
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1 GeneCards. ACE2 Gene – Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2.
2 Horowitz JE. Genome-wide analysis provides genetic evidence that ACE2 influences COVID-19 risk and yields risk scores associated with severe disease. Nature Mar. 3, 2022.
3 National Library of Medicine. ACE2 angiotensin converting enzyme 2 [ Homo sapiens (human) ] July 16, 2023.
4 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19.
5 Rabaan AA. Genetic Variants and Protective Immunity against SARS-CoV-2. Genes (Basel) Dec. 13, 2022; 13(12): 2355.
6 Ali F et al. ACE2 coding variants in different populations and their potential impact on SARS-CoV-2 binding affinity Biochem Biophys Rep December 2020; 24: 100798.
7 Hou Y et al. New insights into genetic susceptibility of COVID-19: an ACE2 and TMPRSS2 polymorphism analysis. BMC Medicine July 15, 2020.
8 Bakhshandeh B. Variants in ACE2; potential influences on virus infection and COVID-19 severity. Infect Genet Evol June 2021; 90: 104773.
9 Beyerstedt S. COVID-19: angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) expression and tissue susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis May 2021: 40(5): 905-919.
10 Ren W. Susceptibilities of Human ACE2 Genetic Variants in Coronavirus Infection. J Virol Jan. 12, 2022; 96(1): e0149221.
11 Fisher BL. Vaccine Culture War Myths. National Vaccine Information Center.
12 Jorde LB, Wooding SP. Genetic variation, classification and ‘race’. Nature Oct. 26, 2004.
13 PIH Health. Ethnicity and Disease Risk: What’s the Connection? Apr. 21, 2021.
14 Boyle P. Are some people immune to COVID-19? AAMC News Jan. 19, 2023.
15 USAFacts.org. US Coronavirus vaccine tracker.
16 The Vaccine Reaction. Risk & Failure Reports.
17 Parpia R. “Long COVID Vaccination Syndrome” and “Long COVID” Illness Are Similar. The Vaccine Reaction July 17, 2023.