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How precision medicine can support pandemic measures

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Precision medicine may impact health care delivery systems and patient outcomes significantly. Here's how it can play a part in the pandemic response.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the necessity of public health measures in ensuring population health. The spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections has been considerably slowed by large-scale testing, contact tracing, social distancing, and mask use. However, new strains rising in many parts of the world have created urgency in identifying additional measures to help public health initiatives.

As we understand more about COVID-19, we may be able to adopt more focused approaches to infection prevention and treatment. According to a journal article published in Genetics in Medicine, precision medicine (PM) and precision public health (PPH), which attempt to customize treatment and interventions to a specific individual or population-level attributes, could be useful additions to traditional public health approaches.

Precision medicine emphasises more precise diagnosis and treatment based on a variety of biomarkers, such as genetic variants, as well as data about the environment, lifestyle, and behaviors of patients. Individual vulnerability and responses to COVID-19 may be better understood using PM methods.

For example, severe COVID-19 infections have been linked to gene variants on chromosomes 3 (3p21.31) and 9 (9q34.2), ApoE e4 genotype, and loss-of-function mutations on X-chromosome TLR7, according to current research. While the clinical importance of these polymorphisms is debatable, discoveries like these may provide some insight into why patients with comparable demographics and comorbidities can have such disparate reactions.

A better understanding of biological fragilities could lead to the development of targeted treatments. Considering recent results on COVID-19 genetic vulnerabilities, PM methods for developing future treatments could be similar to initiatives in oncology, where the patient's genetic predisposition and the tumor's genetics both play a role.

Precision public health, which involves using more accurate measures of disease spread, susceptibility, and behavior to assess population health and devise focused initiatives, can also help with larger COVID-19-related public health efforts. The importance of exact genetic information applies to both the virus and the host.

Pathogen genomics has been used to track the genetic variation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its propagation, which can assist local officials in making public health choices such as shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions. Expanded genetic characterisation of SARS-CoV-2 may provide more comprehensive information on the virus, which can then be used to guide vaccine strain selection and improve vaccine effectiveness.

Additionally, after a vaccine has been established, PM methods have the potential to discover biological, genetic, and environmental factors that may affect vaccine response and imply that some groups require different dosages. Similarly, structural factors may have a role in the probability of COVID-19 transmission at the population level.

Residential segregation research, for example, demonstrates how neighborhood concentrations of poverty, exposure to environmental risks, and reduced access to nutritional meals and primary health care affect community health. As PM and PPH researchers employ increasingly "accurate" techniques, they should keep these underlying reasons in mind while interpreting and presenting data. Future interventions may incorporate both targeted preventive and treatment techniques as well as "basic solutions".

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