Ancient Neanderthals & COVID-19

Since first appearing in late 2019, the novel virus, COVID-19, has had a range of impacts on those it infects. There are several factors that influence your susceptibility to having a severe reaction, like age and other medical conditions. But genetics also plays a role, and, says a new study, published in ‘Nature’ genetic variants in one region on chromosome 3 impose a larger risk that their carriers will develop a severe form of the disease. This genetic region is almost identical to that of a 50,000-year old Neanderthal from southern Europe. Through interbreeding, the variants came over to the ancestors of modern humans about 60,000 years ago. Says researcher Professor Hugo Zeberg, “Those who carry these Neanderthal variants have up to three times the risk of requiring mechanical ventilation.”

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