No credible evidence for links between 2D:4D and COVID-19 outcomes: A probabilistic perspective on digit ratio, ACE variants, and national case fatalities

Alex L. Jones*, Bastian Jaeger, Christoph Schild

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Research into COVID-19 susceptibility and outcomes are critical, but claims must be carefully evaluated to inform policy decisions. In a recent series of articles, Manning and Fink [1–3] use national-level data to describe associations between case-fatality ratios and male and female finger ratios (2D:4D), a suggested measure of prenatal androgen exposure, as well as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) allele and genotype frequencies. The authors suggest that 2D:4D is linked with ACE variant prevalence, and that higher male 2D:4D is associated with higher case fatality ratios, and point to 2D:4D as a useful prognostic measure for COVID-19 susceptibility. A critical review and robust Bayesian analysis of the hypothesis is described here, finding no conclusive evidence of COVID-19 mortality and 2D:4D, nor associations between 2D:4D and ACE1 allele or ACE2 genotype frequency. This absence of evidence is present for data taken from the second wave of COVID-19 in October 2020. Problematic theoretical grounding, individual-level conclusions drawn from national-level data, and issues with statistical inference in the original articles are discussed. Taken together, the current data offer no clear utility of 2D:4D in determining COVID-19 outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105272
JournalEarly Human Development
Volume152
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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