SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- More than two years into the pandemic, scientists discovered a key aspect that could decipher why some people are more prone to getting severely ill from COVID than others.
"There are people walking around with vulnerabilities to COVID and they don't even know it," said Dr. Joe DeRisi, President of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.
Researchers at the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub tested close to 4,000 San Franciscans and noticed that even though many did not have pre-existing health conditions their bodies were highly vulnerable.
"We were able to replicate and show that around .3 percent of the population actually have this autoantibody," said Dr. DeRisi. "However, if you look at the severe COVID patients or critical COVID patients in the hospital it's as much as 20 percent."
They processed thousands of blood tests and discovered that a subset of the population has autoantibodies that compromise their ability to fight the virus.
"What is fascinating about these discoveries is that these autoantibodies, these antibodies against yourself uniquely attack the part of the immune system that is responsible for the first line of defense against viruses which likely explains why people who have these antibodies are susceptible to severe or critical COVID," said Dr. DeRisi.
The first discovery was made by researchers on the East Coast and now they've determined that the risk increases for men over 70 years old.
Luz Pena: "If you are 70 years old and you want to find out if you are part of this group. Is there a way?"
Joe DeRisi: "Unfortunately at this time there is no clinical test here in the US that can tell if you are part of this group. However, I think these discoveries are going to rapidly lead to tests that allow people to know if they are vulnerable or not."
Dr. DeRisi believes commercial testing needs to catch up with our scientific findings to make tests available for the general public.
Hoping to find out in less than 24 hours if they're part of this subset of the population that is more vulnerable and don't know it.
VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine
Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Which Bay Area airports, public transportation still require masks? List here
- Never had COVID? Expert explains chances of getting it now
- California postpones COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schools until 2023
- Pfizer to seek COVID-19 booster for healthy 5- to 11-year-olds
- New studies shed light on how to treat BA.2 COVID variant, how long it survives on surfaces
- Map shows COVID-19 community levels in your area, where masks are recommended indoors
- Americans can now order another round of free at-home Covid-19 tests
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area
- California drops indoor mask mandate: What to know, what's different in the Bay Area
- Here's how to take a rapid COVID-19 test accurately at home
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits