Hand size linked to risk of severe COVID-19, study finds

Credit: Lina Trochez / Unsplash

Although it is generally seen as a mild disease in most patients, in some cases COVID progresses to acute illness, causing hospitalization.

In a study from Swansea University, scientists found the difference in finger length between a person’s left and right hand may provide vital information about how ill they could get if they contract COVID-19.

In the study, the team aimed to help inform effective public health measures it is important to identify those patients who are at risk of severe illness.

During the pandemic, the most severe COVID symptoms were experienced by elderly patients and males. Therefore, the later-life decline in male testosterone may be associated with hospitalization.

It is thought that there is testosterone-linked information in the relative lengths of the fingers, and the digit ratios.

In comparison to women, men have longer 5th (little) and 4th (ring) fingers relative to the 3rd (middle) and 2nd (index) digits.

These digit ratios (2D:4D and 3D:5D) often differ in right and left hands and such differences may contain information with regard to testosterone and COVID-19 severity.

In this study, the team reported links between right-left asymmetries of digit ratios and hospitalization for COVID-19.

Professor Manning said, “Large right-left hand differences in 2D:4D and 5D:3D are associated with COVID-19 severity. It is hoped that an understanding of such associations may lead to an increase in our ability to accurately identify at-risk individuals.”

Their findings follow on from research published earlier this year which explored COVID-19 severity and its relation to low testosterone and possibly high estrogen in both men and women.

This research is helping to add to an understanding of severe COVID-19. Hospitalization is most common in the elderly and in men but there are many elderly men who experience mild COVID-19 symptoms.

Conversely, youth and the female gender do not guarantee mild symptoms of the disease. This research may help to identify those at greatest risk of hospitalization across age groups.

If you care about COVID, please read studies about how vitamin B may help fight COVID-19, and this face mask can capture and deactivate COVID-19 virus.

For more information about COVID, please see recent studies that new antiviral drug may block COVID-19 transmission, and results showing when you should get the new COVID-19 booster and the flu shot.

The study was conducted by Professor John Manning et al and published in Frontiers in Public Health.

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