Researchers at the University of Oxford have found a gene that doubles the risk of lung failure and death from COVID-19.
The development that came on Friday has opened new arenas of understanding on why some people are more vulnerable to the disease than others, unfolding possibilities for targeted medicine.
The scientists found that almost 60 percent of people of South Asian background and 15 percent of people from European background carry the high-risk gene.
This discovery is highly significant as it has shed light on the reason for the high number of deaths in certain British communities and South Asia.
The increased risk was found to be due to the LZTFL1 gene which is present in almost 2 percent of people of African-Caribbean descent and 1.8 percent of people of East Asian background.
The identified gene prevents the cells lining the airways and the lungs from responding effectively to the virus.
However, this gene does not have an impact on the immune system of the body that makes antibodies to fight the infections, which is why people with this gene will respond normally to coronavirus vaccines.
Co-lead of the study, Professor James Davies, said, “(The study) shows that the way in which the lung responds to the infection is critical. This is important because most treatments have focussed on changing the way in which the immune system reacts to the virus”.