According to researches, previously, a genetic factor associated with an increased risk of contracting severe COVID-19 was shown to be inherited from Neandertals.
Researchers Hugo Zeberg and Svante Paabo analyzed new data from the Genetics of Mortality in Critical Care consortium, which includes more than 2,200 critically ill COVID-19 patients, and identified several additional genomic regions associated with COVID-19 hospitalisation.
Using genomic data from published databases, the authors found that the sequence variations associated with COVID-19 hospitalisation in one of these regions, located on chromosome 12, tended to be inherited together in Europeans.
This DNA segment is closely related to that found at the same location in all three Neandertal genomes sequenced to date. The Neandertal DNA segment is associated with a 22 per cent reduction in the risk of requiring hospitalisation for COVID-19.
In modern humans, the segment occurs at substantial frequencies in Eurasia and the Americas but is almost completely absent in sub-Saharan Africa. The DNA segment encompasses all or parts of three genes involved in cells’ response to RNA virus infection.
The authors further said that the results suggest that the genetic contributions of Neandertals to present-day humans are complex, conferring both increased and decreased risk of becoming severely ill during the current pandemic.