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Integrating All the Influencers of Health to Fight COVID-19 and Future Pandemics

What does it mean to have a genetic predisposition? A top concern for not wanting to explore one’s DNA through at-home DNA testing is “discovering future disease.” Medical professionals will tell you that genetic predisposition is an increased likelihood of developing a particular disease based on your genetic makeup.

That leads to the next question: What factors go into my “increased likelihood”? After all, some people with a predisposing genetic variation will never get the disease, while others—even within the same family—will. This brings us to the powerful influences of lifestyle and environment on the likelihood of our genetic predisposition actually turning into a disease. Let’s explore the question of genetic predisposition through the lens of COVID-19.


There are many unanswered questions right now. In the immediate term: What makes some people more susceptible to coronavirus infection than others? Why do some people with COVID-19 have more severe symptoms than others? Why are some young people dying while others seem to be immune? And in the longer term: What is the spectrum of long-term health effects after the virus has run its course? These are all questions that we are scrambling to answer now and will need to understand in the future. Indeed, as a global society, focusing on healthcare triage and community surveillance is the right immediate focus.

But we, the people living it, should be documenting our observations and experiences now so that we are able to conduct robust long-term studies. The answers to these important questions will come from studying DNA, lifestyle, and environment together, alongside the health outcomes that each of us experience. The inputs for study should be collected directly from people.

What if we were all in a digital, privacy-protected platform sharing our DNA and health information? We could layer on information about our experience during the coronavirus pandemic: Do you have a fever? Are you sleeping well? Can you sense smells and tastes? Are you experiencing any curious changes? Do you have the space and luxury to social distance in your environment? This data set, that could be built directly from the safety of home, would help scientists characterize the threat to public health and help inform community-specific plans to slow the spread.

Taking the picture a step further: If you develop COVID-19, analysis could explore how some DNA features differ from those who did not develop the disease, which is especially informative if environment and lifestyle are similar. Such analysis could answer if there is genetic predisposition to contracting COVID-19 or not, and the course of the disease if one is affected. And, just as important, we could study if and how genetic factors play a role in the types and severity of longer-term health effects.

San Diego’s bold and collaborative community, combined with its history as the genomics capital of the world, is playing a vital role in integrating all the influencers of health—including DNA, healthcare interactions, environmental, behavioral, social and structural determinants—to improve our understanding of disease and wellness.

Find out how LunaDNA is leading the way and integrating influencers of health to disease and future pandemics at https://learn.lunadna.com/ covid19-campaign/

Luna DNA

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