Researchers at Oxford University have finally claimed to find why the virus kills some people and not others and it’s largely due to our genes.
They have pin-pointed a chunk of DNA that blocks lung cells from fighting off the virus. The gene, called LZTFL1, doubles the risk of Covid-19 death.
The study found more than one in six Brits and Europeans could have this gene. But people from South Asian heritage face an even greater threat. A massive 61.2 percent of people from the region are thought to have it.
Scientists say it could explain why South Asian people in the UK have been so hard hit by the coronavirus. However, they stressed the gene was not the sole reason.
Some two percent of people with Afro-Caribbean ancestry carried the higher risk genotype, further showing the genetic link could not wholly explain the higher death rates reported for black and minority ethnic communities in the UK.
There are several other important factors among these communities that are thought to contribute to the higher mortality rates. For example, they are more likely to catch Covid-19 due to working in public-facing jobs and living in multi-generational households.
Study co-lead James Davies said: “If you have the high risk genotype and you get very unwell with Covid-19, there’s a 50 percent chance that that wouldn’t have happened to you had you had the lower risk genotype.”
Experts said the risky gene probably prevents the cells lining airways and the lungs from responding to the virus properly.
The study published in the Nature Genetics, found that the gene does not alter immune cell function. Because of this, the team believes vaccines will work to cancel out the added risk.