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Study results show that people with Neanderthal genes are more likely to complicate COVID-19

October 1, 2020

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

3 min read


  • 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.
  • The Bangladeshi population is most susceptible to the coronavirus as 63 percent carry the gene.
Study results show that people with Neanderthal genes are more likely to complicate COVID-19
Study results show that people with Neanderthal genes are more likely to complicate COVID-19

There are many variations why a coronavirus case is complicated. As we’ve already learned, the elderly, other medical problems, or even gender increase the likelihood that it will become a serious case of the disease. Now the magazine has published a new study nature, which says people who have inherited Neanderthal genes may be more likely to complicate 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 ancient Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes 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 inherited this genetic variant now need artificial respiration three times more often, ”explains Hugo Zeberg from the Karolinska Institute.

The variant is present in different parts of the world. In Europe, for example, one in six people has it, while it is 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 who live 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 has such tragic consequences these days,” said Svante Pääbo, Director of the Max Planck Institute, who also emphasized the need to investigate the subject further.

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