Giving covid the finger

2 minute read

Can the length of your fingers predict your risk of severe covid?

Men are more likely to be hospitalised with covid than women. Men also have longer ring fingers than women. Is this just a coincidence??! Researchers think not!

Before you dismiss this as palm reading, there’s quite a bit of research to show that the length of a person’s fingers is connected to the sex hormones they were exposed to before birth and at puberty. (A long ring finger is a market of higher prenatal testosterone, whereas a longer index finger is tied to higher prenatal oestrogen levels.)

And exposure to different sex hormones – testosterone and oestrogen – is thought to influence how effectively the SARS-CoV-2 virus can invade human cells, although the exact relationship is still unknown.

A study published in Scientific Reports looked at the finger lengths of 54 patients hospitalised with covid and 100 controls. 

The researchers from the UK, Poland and Sweden found a telling difference between the two groups. 

People hospitalised with covid had high right- and left-hand digit ratios, and high right-left directional asymmetry (fingers of different lengths on each hand) compared with the control group. 

The difference in finger length indicated that patients with severe covid symptoms had low prenatal testosterone and high prenatal oestrogen, the researchers reported. 

The asymmetry in the hospitalised group indicated “heightened levels of developmental instability arising from stressors such as pubertal sex steroids”, the researchers said. 

Why does exposure to sex hormones in the womb and at puberty make people more vulnerable to covid? Good question. There are probably a few PhDs to be made exploring that.

For now, the really pressing question is: what is your risk from pandemic flu if you are Edward Scissorhands? 

He’s male and unvaccinated, so he’s already in a higher risk group. But does having scissors instead of hands lower or raise your risk of deadly covid? Watch this space… 

And what of the 90s internet sensation Salad Fingers? Do floppy lettuce fingers indicate low prenatal exposure to sex hormones? (Or just lower than normal exposure to human DNA?) Hmm…

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