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People with Neanderthal genes are more likely to complicate COVID-19, study finds

A genetic variant inherited for thousands of years could explain why some cases of the disease become more severe.

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.
  • A genetic variant inherited for thousands of years could explain why some cases of the disease become more severe.
  • The gene studied is present in Europe, Aisa and Africa.
  • Bangladesh's population is the most prone to the coronavirus , with 63 percent carrying the gene.

There are many variants of why a case of coronavirus is complicated. As we have already learned, being elderly, having other medical problems or even gender, increases the chances that it will become a serious case of the disease. Now a new study published by the journal Nature has come out , which says that people who inherited Neanderthal genes could 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 with the virus that continues to keep the world on edge.

The team analyzed the ancient genomes of Neanderthals and Denisovans to determine the origin of this group. So that segment of DNA, inherited, makes them more prone to coronavirus .

“This genetic variant was inherited by modern humans from Neanderthals when they interbred 60,000 years ago. Today, people who inherited this genetic variant are three times more likely to need artificial ventilation ”, explains Hugo Zeberg, from the Karolinska Institute.

The variant is present in different parts of the world. For example, in Europe, one in six people have it, while in South Asia it is almost half, but in Africa and East Asia it is almost non-existent.

The country with the highest frequency is Bangladesh, where it is estimated that 63 percent of the population is home. Therefore, people with offspring from that 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 in the current era," says Svante Pääbo, director of the Max Planck Institute, who also emphasized the need for further research on the subject.