A centralized resource designed to support and combine efforts underway to study the association between HLA and COVID-19 infection and symptoms.
While little is currently known about the impact of host genetic factors on the risk for infection, morbidity and mortality in COVID-19, the epidemiology to-date reveals wide variation in disease course among confirmed cases of infection that does not appear to be fully explained by known comorbidities and other risk factors. The major genetic contribution of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region to disease risk has been recognized for nearly fifty years, with hundreds of associations observed in autoimmunity, infectious disease, cancer, and major drug-hypersensitivities. Because of its pivotal role in the immune response to pathogens, we expect that HLA variation will also play a role in COVID-19.
Vast amounts of genetic data for COVID-19 risk will be emerging in the coming months, both HLA-specific and genome-wide. Because the complexity and extreme polymorphism of the HLA region make consolidation, equivalency, analysis, and biological interpretation of HLA data challenging, it is our view that a centralized resource designed to aggregate these data from disparate sources and platforms and provide well-curated bioinformatics and analytical tools will serve to accelerate discovery.