Study looking for link between COVID-19 and food allergies finds surprising result

The risk of becoming infected with the COVID-19 virus is lower if you have food allergies, a new study has found.

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The study, which was launched to determine if those with asthma and allergic disease were more likely to contract the virus, instead showed that people with food allergies were around 50% less likely to develop COVID-19, the Miami Herald reported.

The National Institutes of Health funded research also showed that the risk of infection does not increase for those with asthma, eczema or respiratory allergies.

The study looked at 4,142 people living in 1,394 households in 12 cities in the U.S. between May 2020 and February 2021. Around half of the study participants “had self-reported food allergy, asthma, eczema, or allergic rhinitis,” according to a news release from the study’s authors. Blood tests were used to confirm the allergies.

The study did not determine why people with food allergies would have a lower risk of getting the COVID-19 virus, but speculated it could be connected to a protein known as the ACE2 receptor that is found “on the surface of airway cells.”

The receptor is what the COVID-19 virus uses to enter human cells. According to the study’s authors, “type 2 inflammation, a characteristic of food allergy, may reduce airway ACE2 levels and thus the risk of infection.”

The study also pointed out how contagious the virus continues to be.

According to The Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS) study “children ages 12 years or younger are just as likely to become infected with the virus as teenagers and adults, but 75% of infections in children are asymptomatic.”

The results of the study were published May 31 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.