COVID-19 Pandemic Has Heightened Interest in Underlying Health Risks, Ancestry® Family Health Survey Shows
Back to Press Releases


“As science advances our ability to identify genetic risks for a wide range of cancers, heart diseases and other illnesses, this knowledge can help parents take better care of themselves and their family -- today and in the future.”

LEHI, Utah & SAN FRANCISCO - (July 13, 2020) – Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, today released results of a survey recently commissioned to understand how consumers view their health -- and in particular, their genetic health risks -- during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the newly released Family Health Survey, by Ancestry, in an era when concerns about health are rising in general, almost half (47%) of all Americans and nearly 60 percent of parents said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their specific interest in understanding their possible genetic health risks.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear to many people the importance of taking proactive actions to protect their health and their family’s health,” said Dr. Ron Park, MD, EVP of Health and DNA, Ancestry. “The survey shows that this applies to not only concerns specific to COVID-19 but also other health issues, such as genetic risks.”

The survey, conducted during the height of the spring surge of COVID-19, when much of the country was sheltering in place, shows that many parents are concerned about protecting their family’s health as a result of the pandemic:

  • 45 percent of all parents said the pandemic has made them concerned about protecting their family’s overall health;
  • 42 percent of parents said they worry about the lasting implications of the virus on their family’s health.  

Looking beyond COVID-19, Americans are, in general, motivated to understand their genetics by the desire to protect both their health and their family’s health, according to the survey. Nearly three-fourths (72%) of all parents and would-be parents want to know both their own and their partner’s genetic information to inform health behaviors, including:

  • Preparing for future potential health issues (53% of all respondents);
  • Catching health issues early on (52% of all respondents);
  • Making lifestyle changes now that could reduce risk factors for health conditions for which they may be susceptible (49% of all respondents).

“This data should serve as encouragement to researchers around the world to continue their efforts to explore genetic information and the impact of genetics on diseases, in particular, COVID-19,” said Dr. Park. “As science advances our ability to identify genetic risks for a wide range of cancers, heart diseases and other illnesses, this knowledge can help parents take better care of themselves and their family -- today and in the future.”

Commitment to Personalized, Preventive Healthcare

Personalized, preventive healthcare, which leverages technology and health data -- such as genomics -- to proactively understand and potentially address individual health risks before disease strikes, has increasingly become a reality thanks to advances in science over the past decade.

Ancestry launched AncestryHealth® last year to increase consumer access to personalized, preventive healthcare. Later this year, AncestryHealth will be powered by Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), an advanced testing technology that provides a more comprehensive analysis of inherited health risks than currently available to consumers through array-based genetic testing. As genomic science evolves, the ability to identify risks will expand and improve.

Delivering health insights derived from NGS technology is the latest in Ancestry’s ongoing focus on using science and technology to improve lives. Earlier this year, Ancestry launched a genetic research study to accelerate the global science community’s understanding of COVID-19. Based on early analysis of data from the study -- with 600,000 volunteers from Ancestry’s DNA network, so far -- Ancestry scientists have preliminarily identified a DNA region that could help explain why the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 seems to have a higher impact on men than women.

Ancestry continues to recruit participants into the study and is working with researchers around the world to find additional insights into the relationship between COVID-19 response and human genetics.

Survey Methodology

Ancestry conducted an online survey, with a sample pool provided by Lucid, among 1,506 U.S. consumers (18+ years old). The margin of error is ± 3%. The survey fielded from April 20, 2020 through April 30, 2020.

 ###

 

About Ancestry®

Ancestry®, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, empowers journeys of personal discovery to enrich lives. With our unparalleled collection of 24 billion records and over 18 million people in our growing AncestryDNA network, customers can discover their family story and gain actionable insights about their health and wellness. For over 30 years, we’ve built trusted relationships with millions of people who have chosen us as the platform for discovering, preserving and sharing the most important information about themselves and their families.

Bringing nearly a decade of experience in genomic science together with the world’s largest consumer DNA network and its world-class science team, Ancestry harnesses the power of genetics and millions of phenotypic data points to gain deeper insights into personalized genomics.  In 2019, Ancestry launched AncestryHealth® to empower people to take proactive steps – in collaboration with their healthcare provider – to address potential health risks identified in their genes and family health history.

To learn more visit: https://www.ancestry.com/health.