Liège researchers join the fight against COVID-19


In an unprecedented study, more than 3,500 researchers and physicians from 25 countries around the world joined forces to determine which genetic factors cause some COVID-19 patients to develop severe, life-threatening disease requiring hospitalization, while others have only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.

In March 2020, when researchers from all over the world decided to join forces for this large-scale genomic analysis, the Liège side was very quick to become involved. Around sixty researchers and doctors from ULiège (mainly from GIGA, the interdisciplinary biomedical sciences research institute), the CHU in Liège and the CHC MontLégia were soon involved in the project. Funding was obtained very quickly from the Walloon Region, the Léon Fredericq Foundation, the University of Liège and the National Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS).

The COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative consortium analysed the genomes of nearly 50,000 patients, and compared them with those of 2 million uninfected control subjects to identify risk factors for developing severe disease related to individual genetic susceptibilities. If the same effort could be made for other diseases, whether infectious or not, there is no doubt that knowledge would advance rapidly.