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COVID-19 pandemic | Asthma patients less prone to contracting COVID-19: Study

The study had 37,469 participants, of whom 2,266 (6.05 percent) had tested positive for SARS-CoV2. Of those who were found to be COVID-19 positive, only 153 were asthmatic as against 3,388 asthma patients who were in the COVID-19 negative group

December 02, 2020 / 09:21 PM IST
Representative image (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Representative image (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)


A recent research has concluded that people suffering from asthma may be less prone to contracting the novel coronavirus disease.

The study titled ‘COVID-19 Susceptibility in Bronchial Asthma’ was published on November 24 in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

“We observed lower COVID-19 susceptibility in patients with pre-existing asthma,” said researchers involved with the study.

Although the study results are not conclusive and further research is being carried out on the topic, it could mean that asthma patients are less likely to contract COVID-19.

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Data for the research was collected from a nationwide health maintenance organisation in Israel. It included information on “all health maintenance organisation enrollees who had been tested for COVID-19 from February to June 2020”.

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A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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There were 37,469 participants, of whom 2,266 (6.05 percent) had tested positive for SARS-CoV2. Of those who were found to be COVID-19 positive, only 153 were asthmatic as against 3,388 asthma patients who were in the COVID-19 negative group. “Asthma was found in 153 (6.75 percent) subjects of the COVID -19-positive group and in 3388 (9.62 percent) subjects of the COVID-19-negative group.”

Eugene Merzon, one of the lead authors of the study, said: “This could be because asthmatics, knowing they are at risk for more severe cases of the virus, may be taking more precautions against contracting COVID-19.”

Besides, the research was based on “inpatient data” and the “prevalence of asthma may be different in outpatient patients with COVID-19.”

Interestingly, the study also found that “a significantly higher proportion of smokers were in the COVID-19-negative group than in the COVID-19-positive group... implying, smoking is negatively associated with a likelihood of Covid-19 infection”.

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Moneycontrol News
first published: Dec 2, 2020 09:21 pm

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