New 23andMe Genetic App Checks How Severe COVID Symptoms Likely to Be

706
23andme DNA testing kit by justgrimes is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

23andMe is a well-known and successful DNA-testing company. They have deep knowledge of genetics and they’re now putting that to use to save lives with a new COVID-19 Severity Calculator.

The service was launched on Jan. 27 and comes out of around a year of research done by 23andMe on COVID-19. Their research asked over a million people about many factors of their health, background and demographics in order to come up with useful info on who is more likely to experience the worst effects of the coronavirus.

The new Severity Calculator can tell you the chances that you’ll have to be hospitalized and experience severe symptoms using an algorithm based on their extensive survey and study of those who had the most serious symptoms of COVID.

COVID-19 testing by World Bank Photo Collection is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

‘Giving People Actionable Information’ is Key Says 23andMe Co-Founder

23andMe co-founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki said the kind of action-oriented info they’re giving people with the new Severity Calculator is something she’s proud of.

“We’ve found giving people actionable information – like this tool – drives meaningful results,” Wojcicki said.

The tool can be used by anyone after putting in any pre-existing health issues and basic data. It doesn’t use genetic information yet to analyze the chance of severity, although that is being studied and could be put into the Severity Calculator later on.

The ancestry and genetic testing field has had to cut jobs in the past year which is also something Ancestry.com has had to do and Wojcicki sees the new Severity Calculator as also a way to remain relevant and give people what they need during this time of crisis.

“More than 75% of our customers have told us they’ve taken a positive health action based on their 23andMe results,” she said.

23andMe Leading the Way in Genetic Research

In addition, 23andMe has worked in the past to help develop new drugs with GlaxoSmithKline – who has an investment in the genetic testing company. If 23andMe’s genetics knowledge can start to yield results in looking at why some people are more seriously affected by COVID it could be a turning point in treating the disease more effectively and prevention.

Last summer research from 23andMe showed that your blood type can have an impact on how serious COVID-19 is and exercise can also have a big influence on your vulnerability to experiencing the worst symptoms.

In order to use the Severity Calculator one simply has to go to https://you.23andme.com/covid19/ and type in the required information. This will compare it with the research done by 23andMe to determine how likely you are to experience the worst symptoms.

Of course there is never a guarantee and some people who could be expected to have serious symptoms don’t end up having them and vice versa, however the calculator is useful for giving you a general idea of the group risk factor that you have based on simple demographic data about your age and health.

The innovative service from 23andMe which is likely to be updated and keep gaining in usefulness and its employees develop it is another good example of the kind of industry-leading and life-saving technology that comes out of the private sector.

As President Biden struggles to do anything about COVID and says he can’t stop another 200,000 deaths from occurring in the coming months and that vaccines won’t be available to everyone who wants one for some months to come, private sector companies like 23andMe are doing something that’s actually useful and giving people advance knowledge of their risk factors compared to a sample group.