Despite the emphasis placed on the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, evidence from representative studies of the interactive impact between gene and the pandemic is scarce. This study used two-way fixed effects model regression to estimate causal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health outcomes among older people using the panel data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing survey before the COVID-19 pandemic (wave 9 in 2018- 2019) and at 2 occasions in 2020 (June-July and November-December), and employed polygenic scores (PGS) for mental-health related phenotypes in the ELSA genetic data to examine whether and how the effect was moderated by genetic risks. We found that individuals with higher PGSs for major depressive disorder (MDD) experienced more depressive symptoms compared to those with lower PGSs for MDD among males, providing support for the stress-diathesis model. However, larger sample sizes are required to robustly validate these findings.
Yan Liu, Leverhulme Centre for Demographic Science, Department of Sociology, University of Oxford