COVID-19 symptoms fall on a wide spectrum of severity. Some people may experience a life-threatening illness while most feel mildly sick.
Then there are folks who never feel a thing.
To understand why, scientists turn to genetics. Genes contain the information to specify biological traits, like how a body responds to an infection.
Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent, according to the National Library of Medicine. Most genes are the same in all people, but a small number vary from person to person.
By studying genetic variations, researchers can pinpoint how genetics contribute to human disease.
While most researchers trying to understand the genetics involved in COVID-19 infections focus on severe disease, a team of scientists from the United States, Brazil and Australia has discovered a gene that might explain why some individuals with a COVID-19 infection never develop symptoms.
These are known as asymptomatic infections.
Studying asymptomatic infections is important because these individuals can still transmit the virus to others. Additionally, it can help scientists understand how immune systems fight the virus in its earliest stages and potentially develop a better vaccine.