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Britons with one in eight genes are at a much higher risk of dying from Covid-19


According to studies, people with one in eight genes found on seven chromosomes are at a much higher risk of dying from Covid-19

  • The individual presence of supervariants reduces the probability of survival
  • With three of them, the probability of survival drops to only 60 percent
  • The data comes from more than 1,700 cases of Covid-19 from the UK biobank

Scientists have identified eight genes that have a major impact on a person's chances of survival if they contract the coronavirus.

Faulty versions of these genes, so-called supervariants, were discovered by researchers at Harvard University distributed over seven chromosomes.

Only one of these faulty genes can reduce the chance of survival by at least 20 percent.

With three or more, however, the chances of survival can drop to just 60 percent.

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Just a single version of the faulty genes can reduce the chance of survival by at least 20 percent. If three or more of the shady genes are present, the probability of survival can drop to only 60 percent (see figure).

Data from the UK biobank released in August enabled researchers to study the genetics of 1,778 people infected with Covid-19. Of these, 445 people died, which corresponds to just over a quarter of the study cohort (file photo)

Data from the UK biobank, released in August, allowed researchers to study the genetics of 1,778 people infected with Covid-19. Of these, 445 people died, which corresponds to just over a quarter of the study cohort (file photo)

Data from the UK biobank released in August enabled researchers to study the genetics of 1,778 people infected with Covid-19.

Of these, 445 people died, which is just over a quarter of the study cohort.

A computer scanned the genomes of the infected people looking for genetic locations that might be related to mortality.

This resulted in the eight "super-variants", which differ from conventional genes in that they are not tied to a specific physical location.

Supervariants are different pieces of DNA that are spread across the same chromosome and work together to perform their normal functions.

In the picture, the influence of a supervariant on the probability of survival in Covid-19 patients. The red line shows their chance of survival after infection, while the dotted blue line shows how high their probability of death would be without the faulty gene

The picture shows the influence of a super variant on the probability of survival in Covid-19 patients. The red line shows their chance of survival after infection, while the dotted blue line shows how high their probability of death would be without the faulty gene

The study available on medRxiv, which has not yet been reviewed by experts, explains that the super variant is powerful and stable because it “aggregates the strength of individual signals”.

"The most interesting signal 222 appears on chromosome 2 in the supervariant chr2_197", explain the researchers in their study.

According to the researchers, the frequency of this supervariant in men and women is 18.09 percent and 22.93 percent, respectively.

It's linked to the DNAH7 gene, which is involved in controlling the movement of cilia – tiny hairs in the airways that help move mucus around.

A previous study found that after infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, this gene is severely downregulated, causing it to stop working properly.

According to the new study, the likelihood that people will die of Covid-19 after 20 days is 25 percent higher due to a certain type of this gene.

According to lead author Jianchang Hu and a colleague who led the study, this variant can be fatal because the virus uses it to disable a person's ability to clear mucus through the cilia, leading to severe respiratory failure, a likely cause for COVID-19 death '.

The function of the cilia is also influenced by another of the supervariant genes, chr16_4, which inhibits the formation of the vital structures.

Chr16_4 leads to an approximate decrease in the survival rate to 70 percent, while people without the variant have an 85 percent chance of survival.

"It is noteworthy that both supervariants chr2_197 and chr16_4 are related to cilia, which play a crucial role in SARS-CoV-2 infection," say the researchers.

However, while a single supervariant lurks in your DNA, the likelihood of death from the disease increases as more compounds present the problem.

"The survival probability of patients with more than 3 supervariants drops dramatically to about 0.6 in the first three weeks," say the scientists.

BAME people are genetically NOT at greater risk of dying from Covid-19

According to a new study, blacks, Asians and ethnic minorities (BAME) do not have a genetically higher risk of dying from Covid-19.

BAME communities are two to three times more likely to die from coronavirus than other members of the population. An analysis of the NHS data has previously shown.

However, scientists in Japan and the United States found no differences in seven genes associated with viral entry of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – in different ethnic groups.

Existing diseases and environmental factors are more likely to be responsible for the fact that people from ethnic minorities die more often from the disease.

Public Health England has also reported that the death rate – the number of people who die from the coronavirus for 100,000 people – is more than three times higher for black men than for other groups.

While BAME people are not classified as more genetically at risk for Covid-19, it has been suggested that ethnic minorities had less access to medical resources and live in densely populated areas during the pandemic, leading to rapid transmission.

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