Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Researchers in Russia say they have discovered a genetic predisposition to severe forms of COVID-19


A team of researchers from Russia’s Higher School of Economics (HSE) says they have discovered a “genetic predisposition to severe cases of COVID-19,” the condition caused by the new coronavirus, DPA reported Tuesday.

In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, the HSE team attributed this susceptibility to a set of six molecules that contribute to T-cell immunity, “one of the key mechanisms used by the human body to fight viral infections.”

These molecules, known as human leukocyte class I (HLA-I) antigens, are “unique to each individual,” but whether or not they destroy the new coronavirus is “largely genetic” because the molecules are inherited from parents.

“If a person has a set that is ineffective in such a detection, it is probably a more severe case of the disease,” said the research team.

The findings were based on the analysis of genotype samples from COVID-19 patients in Moscow and Madrid, along with a control group of samples from healthy people.

The findings of Russian researchers come in the context of fears that the virus mutations first reported in the UK and South Africa could lead to more severe forms of the disease and could prove resistant to the vaccine, although scientists asked by Nature magazine last week they said the virus would become less lethal over time.


Most of the 208 million doses of vaccine administered globally to date are of Western manufacture, although the Russian Sputnik V vaccine appears ready for wider use after being considered to be over 90% effective in a study recently published in The Lancet, a British medical journal.

Globally, more than 2.4 million coronavirus-related deaths and about 111 million cases of infection have been reported, according to official statistics from Johns Hopkins University.

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