23andMe users can now determine how at-risk they are of needing hospitalization if they catch COVID-19. A new tool that the company offers called the COVID-19 severity calculator will tell users if they may be at risk of hospitalization by using non-DNA data collected from consenting participants throughout the pandemic.
The company used data like age, sex and activity levels to determine which groups might be higher risk by cross examining that data with data related to how severe those study participants experienced COVID-19. The data doesn’t use genetic factors, though, so if you were hoping to find out whether your DNA might contribute to or diminish your risk of experiencing worse symptoms of COVID-19, you’ll be disappointed. However, the tool could help users determine just how likely they are to experience more severe symptoms if they do get it.
“We created the Severity Calculator because people who have visited 23andMe’s COVID-19 Information Center have consistently been asking for more information about the severity of the virus infection and what factors into why it impacts some people harder than others,” said Janie F. Shelton, Ph.D., MPH in a statement released by 23andMe when the company announced the new feature. Dr. Shelton added that the data the company collected was both for scientific research and for 23andMe users to be able to utilize it to their own advantage.
The COVID-19 severity calculator was created using data taken from participants in a study that had COVID-19 over the last year and does not use DNA data. However, the company says it did notice patterns among the data that suggests that some blood types may experience more severe symptoms, but the company added that non genetic factors “play a significant role” in how an individual might experience symptoms associated with the virus.
You can access the COVID-19 severity calculator here. You don’t have to be a 23andMe customer to be able to use the calculator, and access to the calculator is free.