CCPM is One of the Few US Biobanks to Contribute to Global COVID-19 Genetic Analysis Efforts

A genetic association plot from the global COVID-19 consortium, available at app.covid19hg.org. The numbers on the bottom are chromosomes and each point in the figure represents a genetic variants tested for association with COVID-19 infection. Peaks passing the red line reflect genetic regions with significant statistical associations.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from all over the globe came together to develop the COVID-19 Human Genetics Initiative, a massive group effort to help understand what (if any) genetic variants underlie who contracts COVID-19 and if any of those same variants can help predict who develops severe outcomes such as inpatient treatment.

So far, 50 studies contributed analyses to this initiative, including research datasets from both Ancestry and 23andMe. In total, this data set reflects a total participant population of over 1.7 million individuals in total. That’s a massive amount of data from a number of contributors, and reflects the many groups interested in helping with these efforts. CCPM was one of only 4 biobanks in the USA that contributed to this effort. We are so thankful for all the biobank participants whose genes contributed to this very large effort.

While we anticipate any risk factors we identify in such a study are relatively small (COVID-19 infection is, after all, more due to exposure than genetics), the insights described in our analyses shine light on 15 genetic regions associated with either COVID-19 infection or disease severity. These could be used by other scientists to help develop new drugs or understand aspects of the disease not possible otherwise.

The data is intended for broad distribution and the overall findings are available to interested scientists–we have submitted to a scientific journal, the manuscript is available in pre-peer-review form (available at https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2021.03.10.21252820v1), and a browser of the results is available at https://app.covid19hg.org.

As we have updates to this ongoing project, we will share them here.