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Study: Neanderthal genes may be liability for COVID patients

Sep 30, 2020

By Frank Jordans

Scientists say genes that some people have inherited from their Neanderthal ancestors may increase their likelihood of suffering severe forms of COVID-19.

A study by European scientists published Wednesday by the journal Nature examined a cluster of genes that have been linked to a higher risk of hospitalization and respiratory failure in patients who are infected with the new coronavirus.

Researchers Hugo Zeberg and Svante Paabo determined that the genes belong to a group, or haplotype, which likely came from Neanderthals. The haplotype is found in about 16% of the population in Europe and half the population in South Asia, while in Africa and East Asia it is non-existent.

Modern humans and Neanderthals are known to have interbred at various points in history, resulting in an exchange of genes than can still be found today.

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