Folks with Neanderthal genes usually tend to complicate COVID-19, examine finds

A genetic variant inherited for millennia could explain why some cases of the disease become more serious.

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October 1, 2020 3 min read

This article has been translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors can occur due to this process.

  • A genetic variant inherited for millennia could explain why some cases of the disease become more serious.
  • The gene under study is present in Europe, Aisa, and Africa.
  • Bangladesh’s population is most vulnerable to the coronavirus. 63 percent carry the gene.

There are many variations why a coronavirus case is complicated. As we’ve already learned, getting older, other medical problems, or even gender increases the likelihood that it will become a serious case of the disease. Now, a new study, published by the journal Nature, has come out that says people who have inherited Neanderthal genes may have a greater chance of complicating COVID-19.

In the study, scientists from the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm) and the Max Planck Institute (Germany) linked a group of genes on chromosome 3 to the virus that continues to keep the world on the sidelines.

The team analyzed the ancient genomes of Neanderthals and Denisovans to determine the origin of this group. This inherited segment of DNA makes them more susceptible to coronavirus.

“This genetic variant was inherited from Neanderthals by modern humans when they crossed 60,000 years ago. People who have inherited this genetic variant now need artificial ventilation three times more often, ”explains Hugo Zeberg from the Karolinska Institute.

The variant is present in different parts of the world. For example, one in six people in Europe has it, while almost half in South Asia, but almost not in Africa and East Asia.

The country with the highest frequency is Bangladesh, which is home to an estimated 63 percent of the population. Therefore, people with offspring from this region living in the UK have twice the risk of dying from the disease, the researchers explain.

However, it is not yet known why this gene is more predisposed to the coronavirus. “It is surprising that the genetic inheritance of Neanderthals today has such tragic consequences,” said Svante Pääbo, Director of the Max Planck Institute, who also emphasized the need for further research on this topic.

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