A new study found that an unexpected bodily feature may ultimately determine how sick one gets after contracting COVID-19.
Researchers in the United Kingdom are reporting that one’s fingers may be pointing toward a link between the severity of infections that could potentially lead to a COVID-19 patient being admitted to the hospital.
According to the Swansea University study, low testosterone and high estrogen in men are linked to an increased risk of severe COVID-19 infection.
Researchers are reporting that smaller ring finger length in men, a sign of lower testosterone, was a predictor of severe COVID infection and an increased risk of hospitalization after contracting the virus.
They noted that people who have larger size differences between the fingers on their left and right hands are at even greater risk.
The new study examined the link between the sex hormones before birth and during puberty and the rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
During the study, researchers examined the size ratios of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th digits on the hands of over 150 people. Of those, 54 were COVID-19 patients, while others were able to serve as the control group.
According to Professor John Manning of the Applied Sports Technology, Exercise and Medicine (A-STEM) research team in Swansea, researchers “observed that patients with ‘feminized’ short little fingers relative to their other digits tend to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms leading to hospitalization.
“More importantly patients with a large right hand – left-hand differences in ratios 2D:4D and 3D:5D – have substantially elevated probabilities of hospitalization,” he noted.
“Our findings suggest that COVID-19 severity is related to low testosterone and possibly high estrogen in both men and women,” Manning said, calling it significant “because if it is possible to identify more precisely who is likely to be prone to severe COVID -19, this would help in targeting vaccination.”
Moving forward, Manning said that his team will continue to research as they look to expand the sample size of those tested for the theory.
“Our research is helping to add to the understanding of COVID-19 and may bring us closer to improving the repertoire of anti-viral drugs, helping to shorten hospital stays and reduce mortality rates,” he said.
“The sample is small but ongoing work has increased the sample. We hope to report further results shortly.”
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