The threat of the COVID-19 infection is still looming large over the world. Amid this, new research has revealed that South Asian people have a gene that significantly increases the risk of lung damage and lung infection from COVID-19. Due to this gene, the death rate from coronavirus infection increases in South Asian people.
The research conducted by Oxford University has warned South Asians to be extra cautious with COVID-19. The research further states that around 60% of people from South Asian backgrounds and 15% of people of European ancestry carry the high-risk version of the gene.
Research has found that the LZTFL-1 (LZTFL1) gene alters the response capacity of the lungs to a viral infection. Researchers say that this is the most important genetic risk factor in the research done so far. COVID-19 vaccines are key and help significantly reduce these risks, researchers say.
Why South Asians are at higher risk from COVID-19?
Researchers used a combination of artificial intelligence and new molecular technology to spot the gene called LZTFL1.
The research found that the LZTFL1 gene blocks key protective mechanisms of the lungs to a viral infection.
The lungs are not able to work to their full capacity due to which cells become weak and the COVID-19 virus easily attacks the body.
The risky version of the gene is present in about 2% of people from African-Caribbean backgrounds and 1.8% of people of East Asian descent.
Socio-economic factors were also likely to be important in explaining why some communities have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic.
It also shows that the people with the higher risk gene are likely to particularly benefit from vaccination and the risk of death is reduced.
Scientists say it is significant that the gene involved affects the lungs, but does not have an impact on the immune system.
However, the research states complex mix of factors including age in particular contributed to each person’s individual risk.