OREANDA-NEWS. Scientists from the University of Oxford to find a gene they suspect almost doubles the risk of a severe course of COVID-19. This research has been published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics.

The scientists carried out a genome-wide analysis. It identified chromosomal territory 3p21.31, which is associated with a twofold increase in the risk of developing respiratory disease.

The Oxford University researchers discovered that the LZTFL1 gene, which is present in 60% of South Asians, makes it easier for the virus to replicate in the lungs. By comparison, the gene is present in only 15% of Europeans.

The academics said this genetic quirk could help explain in part why South Asians in the UK were disabled disproportionately by the coronavirus. However, they emphasised that the gene itself was not the only cause of this discrepancy, and pointed to the socio-economic factors as being serious.

Experts had found previously that a certain stretch of DNA could double the risk of death in adults aged 65 and over, but did not know exactly which gene caused the effect.
Professor Jim Hughes, one of the study's leaders, said scientists had difficulty identifying which gene was responsible for the effect because the effect was indirect.