Food allergy associated with lower risk of Covid infection

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  • A study sought to determine whether allergies and asthma increase the risk of Covid-19 infection.
  • Asthma did not increase Covid-19 infection risk.
  • Obesity, however, increased the risk of infection.

New research has found that asthma does not increase the risk of Covid-19 infection. Food allergies are associated with lower infection risk, while a higher body mass index is associated with an increased risk. 

The study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology assessed whether people with asthma and allergic diseases are at increased risk for Covid-19 infection.

The researchers monitored 4 000 people in nearly 1 400 households that included at least one person aged 21 years or younger between May 2020 and February 2021 in the United States. Participants were recruited from existing National Institutes of Health-funded studies focused on allergic diseases. About half of the study’s children, teenagers, and adults reported a food allergy, asthma, eczema, or allergic rhinitis.

Nasal swabs were taken every two weeks to test for SARS-CoV-2, and participants filled out weekly surveys. Blood samples were also collected periodically, and also after a family’s first reported illness, if someone got sick.

Importance of vaccinating children

The study found that households with food-allergic participants had only slightly lower community exposure levels than other households. The research also found that asthma was not associated with household transmission.

The findings also show a strong linear relationship between obesity and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection Participants who were overweight or obese had a 41% greater risk of infection than those who were not.

“The HEROS [Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2]  study findings underscore the importance of vaccinating children and implementing other public health measures to prevent them from becoming infected with SARS-CoV-2, thus protecting both children and vulnerable members of their household from the virus,” said Dr Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy, and Infectious Diseases. 

“Furthermore, the observed association between food allergy and the risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2, as well as between body-mass index and this risk, merit further investigation,” Fauci said in a statement.

READ | SA’s Covid restrictions failed to prevent virus transmission, leading experts say

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