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Why do some people get seriously ill from COVID-19 while others feel no symptoms?

Scientists are continuing to find answers about the mysterious virus.

ATLANTA — Months into the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists are still discovering the reasons why some people suffer serious illnesses while others don’t feel sick at all.

The doctor at the forefront of the nation’s coronavirus response has questions.

“It’s very strange how one individual can get infected and have either mild or no symptoms and another individual could rapidly deteriorate,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci.

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We know that people with pre-existing conditions like heart disease and obesity are at higher risk of a serious reaction.

Dr. Marybeth Sexton of Emory University’s School of Medicine tells us pre-existing conditions only partially explain why some immune systems under-react while others overreact.

“It (the immune system) attacks the virus so enthusiastically you get swelling and inflammation in a lot of your organs,” said Dr. Sexton. “There is one study that did find at least some of those cases have a genetic link, but it doesn’t explain all of them.”

Two separate studies found serious cases in patients who lacked some of the proteins typically involved in an immune response.

 “You have a genetic mutation which leads to you not producing it or producing a less amount,” said Dr. Harry Heiman of Georgia State University’s Department of Health Policy and Behavioral Sciences. “Our body might not be able to defend itself as well.”

It still explains only a fraction of the serious cases.

“We may not know completely who’s vulnerable,” said Dr. Sexton. “You could be vulnerable and not know it. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that everybody takes precautions.”

The mysteries surrounding COVID-19 have only partially cleared.

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