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A genetic variant protective against severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neandertals

By Hugo Zeberg, Svante Pääbo

Posted 06 Oct 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.05.327197

It was recently shown that the major genetic risk factor associated with becoming severely ill with COVID-19 when infected by SARS-CoV-2 is inherited from Neandertals. Thanks to new genetic association studies additional risk factors are now being discovered. Using data from a recent genome-wide associations from the Genetics of Mortality in Critical Care (GenOMICC) consortium, we show that a haplotype at a region associated with requiring intensive care is inherited from Neandertals. It encodes proteins that activate enzymes that are important during infections with RNA viruses. As compared to the previously described Neandertal risk haplotype, this Neandertal haplotype is protective against severe COVID-19, is of more moderate effect, and is found at substantial frequencies in all regions of the world outside Africa. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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