Gasp! If you have asthma, researchers find you might be at lower risk for COVID

January 20, 2021

You know the factors that put you at an increased risk of a severe battle with the novel coronavirus: your age, your weight, and any preexisting conditions you may have, to name a few.

But what factors might keep you safer? According to new research published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, one surprising group may be less apt to contract COVID-19—and that’s people with asthma.

According to a report by Best Life, the research was conducted by an Israeli team, who tested 37,469 patients— 6% percent of whom were positive for the virus. Among that infected group, 6.75% had asthma. However, among patients who were negative for the virus, 9.62 percent of them were asthmatic. As a result, the researchers concluded that there’s “lower COVID-19 susceptibility in patients with preexisting asthma.”

According to the U.S. enters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that means that the 7.7 percent of American adults and 7.5 percent of American children who have asthma may be somewhat protected from the virus.

Given that COVID-19 most commonly attacks the lungs and breathing system, these findings may seem counterintuitive. But there are a few possible explanations for this, according to researcher Eugene Merzon, MD, of Tel-Aviv University.

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Merzon gave three reasons for the extra level of safety that people asthma enjoy:

  • First, asthmatics have lower levels of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors—the mechanism by which the novel coronavirus attaches to and infects cell;
  • Secondly, asthmatics take more lifestyle precautions that could help them avoid contracting COVID-1, because they know that the impact of it may be more serious; and
  • Thirdly, the treatments patients routinely take for asthma, specifically inhaled coricosteroids (ICS), also may reduce their risk of catching the virus.

That being said, according to Best Life, Merzon advised caution, as the study only looked at hospital in-patients. “All these prevalence data were derived from the COVID-19 inpatient population,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, the prevalence of asthma may be different in outpatient patients with COVID-19.”

However, the research supports previous findings on asthma and coronaviruses: In studies also cited by the researchers, patients with asthma appeared to have fared better in earlier outbreaks of acute respiratory conditions, like the 2003 SARS epidemic.

Research contact: @BestLifeOnline

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