More attractive people may have stronger immunity to Covid, according to a new study.
Not having caught any variant of coronavirus at this stage in the pandemic carries a certain arrogance; not because these 'superheroes' have been flouting the rules willy-nilly over the past two years, but they've often taken the same precautions as everyone else, and watched them still test positive at one point or another.
Of course, it's all just bad luck at the end of the day; you can wear the toughest mask around, live out your days locked away, but a chance transmission can come to us all. Or, according to these researchers, the 'most attractive people' have the best chance.
For a new paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers took photos and blood tests of 79 women and 80 men at Texas Christian University. Nearly 500 volunteers were then asked to rate the facial attractiveness of the subjects.
'Standards of beauty, although sometimes punctuated by idiosyncrasies, are most-often consistent across time and space. Research finds that features such as clear skin, prominent cheekbones, bright eyes, and full, red lips have been deemed attractive throughout recorded human history. Research also finds a consistent preference for symmetrical and average faces,' the paper notes.
After gathering the 'most attractive' subjects based on the ratings, it appeared they had the more consistent markers of biological immunity.
'Results revealed that attractive targets (compared to less attractive targets) had higher rates of phagocytosis of E. coli bioparticles, higher basophil counts, lower neutrophil counts, greater NK cell cytotoxicity and slower rates of S. aureus growth in plasma; although this effect was stronger in women,' it continues.
'Given that so many attractiveness standards are shared by humans, regardless of age, race or cultural background, evolutionary scientists have proposed that they may emerge from perceptual adaptations that function to promote successful mate choice.
'Accordingly, the features that humans universally perceive as attractive may provide cues to unobservable qualities possessed by a target that impact fitness, including health and immune function.'
The researchers believe 'facial attractiveness may provide insights into one's immune function', and for men it's particularly enlightening as it may 'provide cues to their ability to efficiently manage viral threats and neoplastic growth'. However, the paper does concede that future research is needed to affirm these results.
Who knows, maybe it's the most attractive people who've caught Covid – this conclusion is brought to you by a man who's not caught it but his girlfriend has.
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