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Feb 19, 2021

Some Neandertal Genes in People Today May Protect Against Severe COVID-19

A new study looked at a stretch of DNA on chromosome 12 where a haplotype — a cluster of genetic variants that are inherited together — that affects susceptibility to the coronavirus is located. For each copy of the Neandertal haplotype a person inherited, the risk of needing intensive care fell approximately 22 percent, researchers report in the March 2 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The variants may affect the activity or function of genes involved in a biochemical chain reaction that ends with the destruction of viral RNA, including the coronavirus’s. The protective variants are largely absent among people in sub-Saharan Africa, where few people carry genes inherited from Neandertals. About 25 to 30 percent of present-day people of Asian and European ancestry carry the protective variants. Some Black people in the Americas also inherited the protective haplotype, presumably from Asian, European or Native American ancestors.

You can read more at https://www.pnas.org/content/118/9/e2026309118.

Feb 19, 2021

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