People with food allergies have a lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection

Since the start of the global pandemic, researchers have been racing to find out who is most at risk from SARS-CoV-2 and why.

Now, a new population-based study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found evidence of a curious coronavirus benefit for people with allergies.

In an analysis of more than 4,000 people who all lived in households, including minors, researchers noted several curious trends in the context of SARS-CoV-2 infection, including whether individuals with food allergies were infected. It was only half as likely to happen.

The findings match those of other recent research, which found allergic conditions, such as asthma, may offer some protection against severe cases of COVID-19.

Similarly, a new NIH study found that asthma is not associated with an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, while asthma is a condition that affects the respiratory system.

On the other hand, obesity and a high BMI index were factors that increased the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, as was the age of children and adolescents sharing living space.

But the discovery may be the most notable discovery in relation to food allergies.

,[T]They observed an association between food allergies and the risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2, as well as body-mass index and this risk, worthy of further investigation,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. They say. .

Researchers aren’t sure why food allergies make people less susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, but there are some possible explanations.

Half of all participants in the study claimed they had been diagnosed with food allergies, asthma, eczema, or allergic rhinitis. These self-reports were then supported by a subset of blood tests that detected antibodies associated with allergic disease.

The researchers then tracked the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the participating families from May 2020 to February 2021.

People with eczema and asthma did not show additional susceptibility to the virus, but they were also not significantly protected.

Meanwhile, people with food allergies had a 50 percent lower risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Not all forms of asthma are atopic (aka highly allergic), and previous studies have shown that only people with atopic asthma express lower airway levels of the ACE2 receptor, which is associated with SARS-CoV-2. .

This suggests that the virus does not have as many ways to invade the cells in the lungs of people with respiratory allergies.

Something similar may happen in people with food allergies, although the authors only looked at SARS-CoV-2 infection, not the severity of the infection.

“It is not known whether this is also the case in individuals with food allergies, but it is tempting to speculate that type 2 inflammation, a feature of food allergies, may reduce airway ACE2 levels and thus cause infection.” There may be danger,” the researchers write.

“Supporting this possibility, we found normal atopy levels to be significantly higher among people with self-reported food allergies, relative to people without food allergies and even those with asthma.”

Interestingly, while some studies suggest that allergic asthma protects against severe cases of COVID-19, the current study found that the condition does not protect against initial contraction of the virus.

What’s more, when a participant with asthma or food allergies contracted the novel coronavirus, they were no more likely to be asymptomatic.

More research is needed to tease out the mechanisms behind the new findings, but the authors are hopeful that their research could offer new avenues for prevention of COVID-19.

The study was published in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology,


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