Scientists at Oxford University said they have discovered a gene that doubles the risk of lung failure and death from the coronavirus. According to them, 60% of people of South Asian descent and 15% of people of European descent have the high-risk version of the gene.
Vaccines are key and help significantly reduce these risks, the researchers said. The study was published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics. Based on previous genetic work, the researchers used a combination of artificial intelligence and new molecular technology to identify the exact gene – called LZTFL1 – which is responsible for the increased risks.
According to them, the dangerous version of the gene is present in about 2% of people of African descent and 1.8% of people of East Asian descent. Lead researcher Professor James Davies said the discovery that the dangerous gene does not affect all populations equally is crucial. According to him, a complex mix of factors – including age in particular – contributes to the individual risk of each person.
“Although we can not change our genetics, our results show that people with the highest risk gene are more likely to benefit from vaccination,” said Davies. According to figures from Johns Hopkins University in the US, the coronavirus has affected over 248 million people worldwide. Of these, over 5 million have died. Worldwide, over 7 billion vaccines have been delivered so far.
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