HLA haplotypes were found to be associated with increased risk for viral infections or disease severity in various diseases, including SARS. Several genetic variants are associated with COVID-19 severity. Studies have proposed associations, based on a very small sample and a large number of tested HLA alleles, but no clear association between HLA and COVID-19 incidence or severity has been reported. We conducted a large-scale HLA analysis of Israeli individuals who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection by PCR. Overall, 72,912 individuals with known HLA haplotypes were included in the study, of whom 6413 (8.8%) were found to have SARS-CoV-2 by PCR. A total of 20,937 subjects were of Ashkenazi origin (at least 2/4 grandparents). One hundred eighty-one patients (2.8% of the infected) were hospitalized due to the disease. None of the 66 most common HLA loci (within the five HLA subgroups: A, B, C, DQB1, DRB1) was found to be associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection or hospitalization in the general Israeli population. Similarly, no association was detected in the Ashkenazi Jewish subset. Moreover, no association was found between heterozygosity in any of the HLA loci and either infection or hospitalization. We conclude that HLA haplotypes are not a major risk/protecting factor among the Israeli population for SARS-CoV-2 infection or severity. Our results suggest that if any HLA association exists with the disease it is very weak, and of limited effect on the pandemic.
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