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The main genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals



A recent genetic association study1 identified a gene cluster on chromosome 3 as a risk locus for respiratory failure in case of SARS-CoV-2 infection. A new study2 comprising 3,199 hospitalized COVID-19 patients and controls notes that this is the major genetic risk factor for severe SARS-CoV-2 infection and hospitalization (COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative). Here, we show that the risk is conferred by a ~ 50 kb genomic segment that is inherited by Neanderthals and is carried by approximately 50% of people in South Asia and ~ 16% of people in Europe today.


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