High-risk Covid gene more common in South Asians: Oxford-led study

A study published in the Natural genetics journal revealed that there is a gene in people of South Asian origin which has the ability to double the risk of lung failure and Covid deaths, BBC reported. The revelation of the high-risk gene has been done by the researchers at the University of Oxford and they said the gene could explain why people of South Asian ancestry have a higher risk of severe disease.

In their study, they found that around 60 percent of people from South Asian backgrounds and 15 percent of people of European ancestry carry the high-risk version of the gene.

The study also mentioned that the genetic signal would double the risk of death due to Covid-19 in adults under 65 years of age. The impact of Covid-19 in the Indian continent has also been identified in the study. 

The gene which is responsible for the risk of Covid deaths was named LZTFL1. It was revealed after going through molecular technologies and artificial intelligence by the researchers.

Researchers said LZTFL1 blocks a key protective mechanism that cells lining the lungs normally use to defend themselves from viral infection.

Meanwhile, researchers also identified that the risk of genes present in people from African-Caribbean backgrounds is 2% and it is 1.8% on people of East Asian descent. Thus the risk of genes affecting the entire population in the world is low as per calculations, said Lead researcher Prof James Davies.

He further said that it is impossible to remove those genes from our body as it is part of our ancestry and he said “our results show that the people with the higher risk gene are likely to particularly benefit from vaccination.”

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However, scientists say that It is important to note that the gene involved affects the lungs, but it does not affect the immune system which means people at high risk can still get immune protection from the vaccine. Moreover, with this discovery scientists believe that a more useful drug that focuses more on the lungs could be manufactured.