Genetics service 23andMe launches study to better understand COVID-19

You're used to taking the genetic testing kits to learn about your ancestry but now the company 23andMe is working work willing clients to see if genetics plays a role in COVID-19. 

Anjali Shastri with 23andMe says the hope is to help scientists beat the virus. 

"On April 6 we launched a study to 23andMe customers who have consented to participate in research and asked them to complete a survey basically telling us about their experience with COVID-19. So we asked them whether they have been tested, whether they have been diagnosed or treated, and what type of symptoms they were having. We had a really great response," she said. 

About 700,000 people have signed up for the study in America, with 10,000 of them having been diagnosed and treated for the coronavirus. Questions about race, age, pre-existing health conditions were also covered in the study. 

"What were the symptoms of people had? Did they have a dry cough? Did they have sneezing? Did they lose their sense of smell? So we really wanted to get a holistic view of all of the symptoms they may have had. We asked questions around hospitalization, what is hospitalized as a result?"

And then there were questions about how their family members fared and whether they practiced social distancing and other protocols. 

"Trying to really understand their experience with COVID-19 and so we're hoping to take all of that data and to be able to analyze that along with their genetics to see if maybe there is a contribution of genetics of who falls in one category or another in terms of severity."

They don't have an idea yet on a timeline of when the study will be completed as they're still in the gathering phase of data right now. But once they have more information they'll be presenting it to the scientific community.