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Having the right genes helped people cope with COVID-19 stress

How a person perceives their quality of life depends on a combination of factors that include the genes they inherited from their parents and their environment - a mix of nature and nurture.

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By Mark Waghorn via SWNS

Having the right genes helped people cope with "Covid stress," according to new research.

Some people fared better than others during the pandemic - thanks to their DNA, say scientists.

They had a tendency toward improved wellbeing compared to peers. What is more, nature rather than nurture played a greater role over time.

It had an increasingly powerful influence on how those individuals perceived their quality of life.

The phenomenon may have been due to the strict social isolation required by lockdowns.

First author Robert Warmerdam, a PhD student at the University of Groningen, said: "All over the world we have experienced the influence of the pandemic on our wellbeing.

"However, the impact may not have been the same for everyone.

"We know physical and mental health are affected partly by nature, for example genetics, and partly be environmental factors, for example the pandemic.

"Here we explored the interaction between genetics and the impact of the pandemic on individuals' wellbeing over time."

How a person perceives their quality of life depends on a combination of factors that include the genes they inherited from their parents and their environment - a mix of nature and nurture.

Studying genes related to quality of life is complicated. The pandemic enabled the Dutch team to investigate links between genes and overall wellbeing.

The genomes of more than 27,000 people in the Netherlands who had donated bodily fluids to a biobank were screened.

Connections between variants and the participants' responses to a series of questionnaires about lifestyle and mental and physical health were then identified.

They were provided over a period of ten months - from March 2020 onwards.

The findings also demonstrate the contribution of genetics to complex traits like wellbeing can change.

Warmerdam said: "We observed genetics not only influenced many aspects of wellbeing but also this impact changed over time during the pandemic.

"Our results suggest the relative contribution of an individuals' genetics increased over time.

"Overall, our findings demonstrate the relative contribution of genetic variation to complex traits such as wellbeing is dynamic rather than static."

The legacy that lockdown has left is of a generation with the mental health scares of shutting our society down for months.

In the UK, mental health services received a record 4.3million referrals in 2021 as the pandemic took its toll on our wellbeing,

Warmerdam added: "The pandemic has been a unique opportunity to investigate the impact of genetics on wellbeing in a time wherein we had to socially isolate ourselves.

"We found it is during the first, stressful year of the pandemic that it is our nature that has gained relative impact on how we rate our lives."

The study is published in the journal PLOS Biology.

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