Modern day humans inherited DNA linked to Covid-19 from Neandarthals, claims study
A new study has claimed that genes linked to the coronavirus disease were passed on to humans by the Neandarthals who existed 60,000 years ago.
The study has been carried out by a pair of Swedish geneticists Svante Paabo and Hugo Zeberg. Germany’s Max Planck Institute, Japan’s Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology and Sweden’s Karolinska institute are affiliated with the project.
The frequency of contracting the infection is higher in the people from south Asia (nearly 30 per cent) than in Europe (nearly eight per cent), the study said, because the piece of genome is prevalent in south Asia.
The piece of genome that the study found is responsible for the infection, is common in those living in Bangladesh. More than 63 per cent of the population carry at least one copy of Chromosome 3, which was studied by the researchers in this case.
The presence of this particular gene set is there in only four per cent of East Asians, and is completely absent in Africa, the study showed.
According to another study published in Nature, modern Asian and European human genomes are made up of 2–3 per cent Neanderthal DNA. This is the result of inter-breeding that happened thousands of years ago, that study said.
An abstract published on the study said that in the current pandemic, it is clear that gene flow from Neanderthals has tragic consequences. The study has not been published in any scientific journal yet.
Meanwhile, global Covid-19 cases have crossed the 11 million mark - a yet anothet grim milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than half a million people in seven months.
The number of cases is more than double the figure for severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus while making extensive alterations to work and social life that could last for a year or more until a vaccine is available.