We now know that certain conditions, such as advanced age, obesity, diabetes and certain genetic characteristics predispose to severe forms of covid. But what are they – if any – protective factors, which keep SARS-CoV-2 and its complications at bay? According to a number of studies, suffer from allergies it could make the risk of contracting Covid less likely.
If it seems a bit counterintuitive, you are not alone: in the first months of the pandemic, allergic people, especially those suffering from asthma, were considered more vulnerable to the consequences of covid, at the time considered a primarily respiratory disease. But this conviction then fell away.
rarer infections. Several scientific papers published in recent months have found that various types of allergies, from food allergies to allergic asthma, through to atopic dermatitis (a recurrent inflammation of the skin more frequent in allergic subjects) are associated with a risk significantly less to get sick with covid in the first place.
How can this sort of protection be explained? Behavioral reasons were initially thought: especially in the early days of CoViD-19, asthmatics may have used greater caution in risky situations, fearing health repercussions. But this explanation does not “hold” when one thinks of other allergies, such as those associated with atopic dermatitis or the consumption of certain foods.
Access denied. A more convincing hypothesis concerns the intrinsic characteristics of cells. To make its way into the host’s organism, SARS-CoV-2 uses a specific cell gate, a receptor called ACE2. People who express this protein in abundance are therefore also more susceptible to covid: for example, for those who smoke, for those suffering from hypertension or diabetes – all conditions also associated with a higher risk of covid. in severe form.
Conversely, a condition called chronic inflammation type 2, which underlies many allergies, reduces the expression of ACE2 receptors in the respiratory tract, and therefore closes the doors in the face of the coronavirus when it tries to contagion. In this way, the chances of infection are reduced. It is the most convincing explanation, although not the only one. For example, people with respiratory allergies also produce more mucus, a substance that could help keep pathogens out.
No more at risk than others. In addition to allowing a probable decrease in infections in predisposed subjects, asthma and allergies do not seem to be associated with more severe forms of covid, once the disease is contracted. A condition of mild asthma, or otherwise kept at bay by drugs, does not appear to represent a risk factor for hospitalization and death, although viral diseases usually exacerbate asthma symptoms.
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