People who are asymptomatic with COVID-19 or have mild side effects might be blessed by a protective genetic mutation that goes all the way back to Neanderthal predecessors.
According to CNN, a new study found the mutation reduces the risk of severe COVID-19 by 22%. It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States (PNAS) and stated, "a genomic region associated with protection against severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals."
The authors said the mutation located on chromosome 12 is common in people all over the world outside of Africa and helps combat infections caused by RNA viruses.
"It is present in populations in Eurasia and the Americas at carrier frequencies that often reach and exceed 50%," wrote the German-based authors, Svante Paabo and Hugo Zeberg, from the Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. The authors said the mutation, called a haplotype, can reduce the risk of a COVID-19 patient landing up in intensive care by 22%.
The research team compared the DNA of 2,200 people who had severe cases of COVID-19 to that of four ancient Neanderthal skeletons tens of thousands of years old. The researchers identified the genetic region responsible for severe illness and found all four samples of our Neanderthal ancestors carried the exact same DNA sequencing that could reduce that risk.
Neanderthals have been extinct for 40,000 years, according to CNN, and interbred with humans in Europe and Asia, but not in Africa. People of pure African descent do not have Neanderthal DNA, which might explain why Black Americans are nearly three times more likely to be infected with COVID-19.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.