DUBLIN — Scientists at Russia’s Higher School of Economics said they have discovered a “genetic predisposition to severe Covid-19,” the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
In research published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, the HSE team attributed the 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 virus infections.”
While the molecules, known as human leukocyte antigen class I (HLA- I), are “unique in every human,” whether they destroy the novel coronavirus “is largely determined by genetics,” as the molecules are inherited from parents.
“If a person has a set that is bad at such detection, a more severe case of disease is more likely,” the team reported.
The findings were based on analyis of genotype samples from Covid-19 patients in Moscow and Madrid, along with a control group of samples drawn from healthy people.
The Russian findings come amid concerns that virus mutations first reported in Britain and South Africa could lead to more cases of severe disease and prove vaccine-resistant, though scientists surveyed by the journal Nature said last week they believe the virus will become less deadly over time.
The majority of the 208 million vaccine doses administered worldwide so far are Western-made, though Russia’s Sputnik V jab looks set for wider rollout after it was deemed over 90 per cent effective in a recent study published in The Lancet, a British medical journal.
Over 2.4 million virus-related deaths have been reported worldwide, according to official statistics collated by Johns Hopkins University, which also show roughly 111 million reported cases.