Major Genetic Risk Factor for Severe COVID-19 Is Inherited From Neanderthals

SARS-CoV-2 Virus DNA Concept

A study reveals the gene cluster associated with a higher risk of severe COVID-19 is of Neanderthal origin, closely resembling a DNA sequence from a 50,000-year-old Neanderthal found in Croatia.

A study published in Nature shows that a segment of DNA that causes their carriers to have an up to three times higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals. The study was conducted by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

COVID-19 affects some people much more severely than others. Some reasons for this – such as old age – are already known, but other as yet unknown factors also play a role. This summer, a large international study linked a gene cluster on chromosome 3 to a higher risk of hospitalization and respiratory failure upon infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Hugo Zeberg and Svante Pääbo at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany now report that the version of the gene cluster associated with a higher risk of severe COVID-19 is very similar to the corresponding DNA sequences of a roughly 50,000-year-old Neandertal from Croatia, and indeed comes from Neanderthals.

“It turns out that this gene variant was inherited by modern humans from the Neanderthals when they interbred some 60,000 years ago,” says Hugo Zeberg. “Today, the people who inherited this gene variant are three times more likely to need artificial ventilation if they are infected by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.”

The study also reveals considerable differences in how common this genetic risk variant is in different parts of the world. It is particularly common among people in South Asia where about half of the population carry the Neandertal risk variant. In Europe, one in six people carry the risk variant, while in Africa and East Asia it is almost non-existent.

The study provides no explanation as to why this genetic variant confers a higher risk.

“It is striking that the genetic heritage from the Neanderthals has such tragic consequences during the current pandemic. Why this is must now be investigated as quickly as possible,” says Svante Pääbo, director at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

Read Tragic Genetic Heritage: The Ancient Neanderthal Hand in Severe COVID-19 for more on this research.

Reference: “The major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals” by Hugo Zeberg and Svante Pääbo, 30 September 2020, Nature.
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2818-3

The study was financed by NOMIS and Nordforsk.

Note: The original header image (which was chosen by SciTechDaily, not the researchers) was a stock photo of a Neanderthal that some objected to as inaccurate or even racist, so it was changed. Some comments deemed ignorant or offensive were deleted (as well as their replies.)

83 Comments on "Major Genetic Risk Factor for Severe COVID-19 Is Inherited From Neanderthals"

  1. This is a surprising result considering that, at least in the US, African-Americans are getting sick at a rate about double that of European-Americans. It is well known that Africans lack Neanderthal DNA because those who never left African didn’t have an opportunity for interbreeding.

    • You need to educate yourself. Most so-called “African-Americans” have a substantial amount of European admixture, largely due to the slave trade; given then Neanderthal DNA. Try opening a history book.

      • First off, Clyde isn’t necessarily right but you don’t have to be a toxic human.

      • Well aren’t you a prick. The article was clearly speaking about 60,000 years ago. So I agree with what clyde had to say and knew what he meant by what he wrote.. you’re definitely the type that always has to be right I take it. Do you feel better about yourself trying to sound smart? Maybe you should try and get laid and relax a little bit

        • Read it again Bob. Humans inherited the gene mutation from Neanderthals 60,000 years ago and it has been a part of the genome since then. This means that modern humans who have the gene inherited it from distant ancestors because it has been passed down their lineage for the last 60,000 years. So, yes modern humans do have this gene, and yes there has been significant genetic admixture between modern humans all over the world, so YES people of African descent can, and DO, have Neanderthal genes, as well as people of European and Asian decent.

    • I think the fact that african americans statistically have less access to quality medical care, if any, is an important factor in this

    • African american and latinos in colder parts of US are affected more severely as they bodies lack enough Vitamin D due to insufficient sunlight. So Europeans in colder climates have an advantage due to their pale skin and are at a disadvantage due to Neanderthals genes.

  2. I really wish the header photo shown didn’t depict the neanderthal with very pigmented skin and the human as pale. Keeping the skin tone consistent would have been much better.

  3. The image accompanying this article is inaccurate. The Neanderthal should be white and the Homo sapiens black. As the article itself states Neanderthal genes are almost nonexistent in Africa since they are the purest Homo sapiens on the planet and white Europeans are more likely to have Neanderthal genes

  4. LOL, I went to college with those 2 dudes.

  5. Why does Chris need to be such an arrogant ass.
    Please be informative

    • Haha I thought the same thing. He seems like a bad time.
      I think the only needs to open up is “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

  6. I’m sorry but anyone who takes this seriously needs help.

  7. are we seriously ignoring the actual factual information of the article to focus on an image or am i just surrounded in neanderthals who are more worried about scratching their ass.i think both. s#!t like this reminds me society has failed and is in need a rebuilding. starting with the morons who think the random picture from google vs the factual information is more important.

  8. Well white Ethan. The information within is helpful, but not very discussion worthy. The image is inaccurate, detracts from the information, and is generally damaging. So it is being discussed. Just a guess, you don’t care because you look like the guy on the right.

    • Why does it matter if Ethan is white? Assuming he is? Really tired of people always trying to racialize everything because those are the real racists.

  9. huh xi virus is targeting the westerners, that could make sense

  10. There are 17 known species of homo to date. Most all would look dark in complection except homo neanderthalensis, who descended from colder climates, where having dark pigment would have been a evoluntary disadvatange in terms of vitamin D absorption. You’d think this would have been glaringly obvious at this point.

    • Really?

      I’m a homosapien without dark complexion?

      Maybe skin color isn’t a defining trait of the species, huh?

  11. The China virus was designed to take out the neanderthal Europeans.

  12. I’m gonna guess it’s a stock photo of homo habilis or homo erectus maybe… They just threw it in there to have something. But yes, coulda tried a lil harder 🧐😳

    Regardless, interesting finding and I’m curious to see if there are new unfoldings on this

  13. So in terms only the retards contract the virus. Ahh no wonder so many cities have so many cases, also 80% of those that read this don’t even know what neanderthals are seeing they don’t teach it in schools anymore because it’s racist or something.

    • Fun fact: Neanderthals had larger brains on average than modern humans.

      Also, maybe they left Neanderthals out of your school curriculum just like they left out grammar and punctuation. Pretty hard for anyone to take you seriously when you write like a fourth grade dropout.

  14. Im confused on 2 counts. 1) blacks get it more then everyone. 2) blood type A people get it more then everyone and more severely and the majority of blood type A are white not black.

  15. Fred Flintstone | October 6, 2020 at 1:45 am | Reply

    Neanderthals might have been simply Homo sapiens, but a “subspecies”. They sure as heck have left their DNA in Homo sapiens so why is everybody calling them a separate species?
    Their skin pigmentation was probably variable.

    There are those who think that Asia is the continent from which human populations originated.

    Nobody knows. The narrative we were brainwashed about the Origin of Man is likely nonsense. All the nonsense about Neanderthals being “Cave Men” has to be expunged. The photos above are nonsense. I can’t believe how dogmatically things were presented to us in college 30-40 years ago and now it has all been disproved. Utter garbage. Neanderthals Is Us.

  16. This research is about risk factors for severe symptoms. The rate of infection is entirely separate; the rate at which severe symptoms occur depends on multiple risk factors (including comorbidities like diabetes, which is more common in African Americans), as well as access to health care, population density, etc. There is no contradiction between the genetic association described in this research and the observed impact of COVID-19 in the African American sub population.

  17. This is very true, though the picture above is completely opposite of what the article was trying to depict.

    Even though they have fewer neanderthal variants than whites or other groups in the US, African Americans still have some neanderthal DNA from their European ancestors which could make them as susceptible. Couple that with the poor economic standard gives you an idea of why they’re disproportionately affected by covid-19. This isn’t happening in Africa, despite the economic situation there. That alone gives a great deal of credence to this funding.

  18. This is a damn LIE

  19. This article States a groundbreaking discovery on genes and viruses and all people can pay attention to is the color of the people depicted. I think you guys are looking in the wrong direction. And the problem might not be the rest of the world it might actually just be you.

  20. Now we have to be politically correct over pics. Who knows what a neanderthal looked like. Maybe the skin had different shades to it. I wasnt there. Were you?

  21. Amaryah Israel | October 6, 2020 at 6:16 am | Reply

    I’m so glad the others caught onto the bs in this article, it’s a scientifically none fact, that blacks are the only race that don’t have any…Neanderthal dna, stop the bs, everyone is onto it, and are sick of it👎🏾

    • Only people of pure African descent, meaning 100% of their ancestors were from Africa, would lack Neanderthal DNA. Anyone who has even a single ancestor of European or Asian descent has the possibility of having Neanderthal DNA. Africans of mixed ancestry, or people of predominantly African descent born elsewhere in the world, (and especially those descended from victims of the slave trade), are VERY likely to have some European (or other) DNA. It’s a scientifically KNOWN fact.

  22. Keep going. Keep digging. I guarantee with further genetic studies, they will find that this entire pandemic is a genocide. All the minorities and asians with higher amounts getting it more while caucasians do not.

  23. This article is completely racist and just another attempt to depict Blacks as less than. Homo Sapiens were Black. No evidence that I’ve seen that Neanderthals were Black. This is straight Darwinism.

  24. The header image is inaccurate and racist. If you wanted to be make this racist color distinction, Neanderthals would be pale with red hair and Humans would be more dark. You should have just made them the same color though to avoid these silly stereotypes + drama. This likely isn’t a reputable site at all.

  25. Stewart Goodwin | October 6, 2020 at 6:40 am | Reply

    Neanderthals are white. Did you even read the article? Neanderthals are non existent in Africa. Neanderthals are found in Eurasia. The education of Americans is a total folly. Everything an American thinks is an evil backwards stupid lie. Y’all have no concept of reality. You’ve been fed horrible lie after horrible lie about everything in history to the point your graphics don’t even match the words they accompany. Dam fools!

  26. I’ve been reading through all your posts and I also found the image disturbing and it would fit her confuse anyone who was learning about this subject and they should be accurate.
    Recently I had my DNA done with ancestry, I am white, I’ve always tanned easily and even if I burn the next day I’m usually a nice brown by morning.
    In my DNA I found that I have 1% Congo, my Mother has 2% and some of her family I found 3%. I had always believed human life started in Africa.
    My son’s DNA showed 1% as well, I’m hoping his father will do the DNA test too. My son also had Covid-19 in June, probably not enough of our African DNA, if their correct, to protect him.
    If you think about about it, this is actually awesome.. For yrs the clan has used the Sickle Cell Disease to discriminate against their race because they were the only race to get the disease and now its possible that this disease maybe a race disease?
    Man are of one race, we’re all human beings. Al though our DNA may have some differences that make up our skin tone, eye and hair color, and if we have straight, wavy or curly hail .. We also have that in our own individual families.


  28. I’m a white hit from Nebraska. I graduated high school. And even I know that whoever chose this picture of a guy named chad next to an incorrect rendering of a dark skinned person with features of a hominid and a human looks absolutely speculative and furthermore has absolutely nothing to do with our understanding of how Neanderthals looked. In fact it looks down right incorrect and probably racist af. Better fix it because it even offends me lol.

  29. The picture you have showing Neanderthals as being black is insulting and racist.
    What you have done is what’s wrong with this world and it needs to stop.

  30. Neanderthals are european and, therefore, white. The illustration is racist and misleading. The article itself states that there are lower percentages of incidences among african and eurasian populations. Please remove the image from the article.

  31. Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 6, 2020 at 8:23 am | Reply

    I do not accept this postulations, the fact remains: look at the areas of the world with high densities of people with CCR5 DELTA 32 genetic signature (such North Latvia, Norway, North Sweden, North England) this virus has caused little or no negative effects… Right now some scientists are experimenting (using gene-editing technology: CRSPR CAS 9) with CCR5 DELTA 32 genetic mutations, yielding beneficial outcomes…

  32. Your image of a dark skinned Neanderthal is incorrect and racist. Neanderthals were known to have reddish hair and hazel eyes— and would have looked more like the white man on the right except with a heavier brow bone and bigger jaw bone. Your article even mentions there’s virtually no Neanderthal genetics among Africans.

  33. Blacks are the real modern day racist with every same right and access to everything whites do. You just need to quit living in the past and appreciate how good you have it. Boohoo, everytime i turn around one of you little racist pos cry babies are calling something racist. Get a fn job. Then u wouldnt have time to be complaining about the most irrelevant bs. Im a black man that is sick of this bs. You are destroying our reputation that our ancestors built up

  34. Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 6, 2020 at 8:54 am | Reply

    And this Covid 19 is a weaponized version of another old virus, and it is aiming at the non-productive population of the world; no anti-viral vaccine will destroy it. A virus is neither dead or alive, it is a seed looking for a host, but if the host is genetically impenetrable (phylogenetically protected with Neanderthal traits, such as CCR5 DELTA 32), the virus will cease its existance. And not just Covid 19, also HIV and other viruses (look up “Timothy Ray Brown”)

  35. Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 6, 2020 at 9:09 am | Reply

    Somebody with lots of money and resources wants to keeps us fighting amongst ourselves untill we end up in a civil war… Do dot fall prey before these enemies of humanity. Look up to God for guidance, we all were made in his image:
    “And the spirit of the lord was hovering over the surface of the waters” (Book of Genesis)… When I was a child I looked at my reflection on the face of the river waters and I saw myself, but with multiple hues and colors because the water was moving… God created us according to his image reflected on the surface of the waters, hues and all…
    We, Black, White and everything in between are children of the most high, the creator, the almighty God of old.

    • Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 7, 2020 at 6:59 am | Reply

      Just look up who is funding this institution: International Banks, who want to keep the world population under 5 billion people, I smell Globalism pushing their agenda.

  36. This article is completely inaccurate and neanderthals look nothing like the way they are depicted here . I believe there is no true pure Homo Sapien species it is instead a hybrid species composed of Neanderthal , Denisovan (sp) Cro-Magnon, Subsaharan African and others not listed .

  37. The drawing on the left is for Neanderthals the one on the right is the modern human, latest migration out of Africa
    Neanderthals to deno…are earlier migrations of humans out of Africa. Groups of Africans DNA mutates and they call it xyz. Important you guys know this. Africans/Humans have migrated to East Asia a long time ago. The DNA maybe changes ( it does ) and the changes is what covid is used too. Will it evolve to attack all humans..heard of the potato famine in ireland or one of those places. Why racism sucks and the picture sucks

  38. Please change the offensive picture.

  39. I have Neanderthal DNA, so I’m extra careful. I live in a largely Hispanic area I can can tell you first hand they do not wear masks unless forced, they do not Social distance, do not quarantine. Every weekend parties are going on and neighborhood kids are all playing together without any protection. Same with the Blacks in our area. This is why they have higher rates if Covid.

  40. Not sure why so much fuss over the picture as it doesn’t state which is which. Maybe peoples own inner bias is showing more so than anything the picture portrays?

  41. If black people never inter bread with Europeans there’s no possible trace of Neanderthal in them. How bizarre some of these answers are. Furthermore I agree with many of you with the same question why in the world is the Neanderthal represented as a black person? This is entirely incorrect and indirect racism in some form I’m sure.

    • I’m sure you are aware that in the last decade or so we’ve come to the scientific understanding that even Europeans were somewhat dark-skinned up until maybe the last ten thousand years. So a black Cro-Magnon living in Europe or even a black Neanderthal surely of skin not other features is entirely scientifically accurate. Or do you believe that only black people can be dark skin?

  42. Chris, you seem to have a little too much emotion in your comment.just deal with the facts,genetics is complicated.

  43. Unfortunately in the highly politicized world we live in now this is going to be used by activists to claim that the high rate of black mortality is because of racism. Which totally ignores lifestyle choices and other genetic factors. There’s another story talking about nasal passages of certain ethnic groups having a higher receptor density than others.
    Long story short, even if this so-called science is fact-based without a complete picture it is very easy to use to push a socio-political agenda. Which I think is why so many people are vicious of science these days or at the very least scientists

  44. First of all Neanderthals comes from the caucus Mountains which is in Europe and That itself says it all so who is the real Neanderthals

  45. PRAY FOR OUR COUNTRY | October 6, 2020 at 2:15 pm | Reply

    Wake up people. This is a fake article meant to further divide us. There are groups of people in the world that want racial divide and civil war in the US. We are one race, The human race and all lives matter to our creator. Lift you eyes to God only he can give us peace.

  46. Matt so true. Everyone sees just a picture. I see evolution from animal to man. And evolution saying it doesn’t like interbred genes. If anyone actually read the article.

    • Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 6, 2020 at 5:00 pm | Reply

      Not all of us see evolution, many of us do subscribe to the notion of creationism.

    • From an evolutionary perspective, more diverse gene pools create more fit offspring, whereas more restricted gene pools lead to higher incidence of hereditary disease. So, hopefully the white supremacists will inbreed themselves into extinction eventually.

      Both Neanderthals and modern Homo sapiens are considered human beings. Also, both are considered animals, specifically mammals, more specifically apes.

  47. Stanley Matthews | October 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm | Reply

    All color isnt just from africa….

  48. Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 6, 2020 at 4:57 pm | Reply

    Neanderthals did no move much, they were a based type of humans; Homosapiens were a bound type of humans. When the Neanderthal lived in the same cold area of the world for thousands of years, morphologies took place, such as changing their skin color so that they can absorb more sun light and genetic mutations, such as CCR5 DELTA 32…
    We are, all of us, the sons of Adam. Until somebody can prove otherwise, this is my believe.

  49. Lol maybe you should of proof read that or not drop out of school idiot smh took our language away in slavery to teach us this garbage 😆

  50. Pretty sure the Neanderthal on the left is just very dirty. You know they didn’t have showers back then. Stop racializing everything for crying out loud…

  51. Gotta love these titles. Being a human, a mayor risk factor to get infected with covid-19.

  52. Hey its LeBron!

  53. As a Neanderthal, i find this very offensive.

  54. A End Time Messenger | October 6, 2020 at 9:09 pm | Reply

    I believe scripture 100%. Not just the KJV but ALL books of scripture including the ones removed to hide truth. “Neanderthals” were really the Naphal/Nephilim known as “the fallen ones” and they lacked melanin. They’re quickly mentioned in Genesis 6…but the book of Enoch reveals more. Noah was black but had albinism. His family said he looked like the Angel’s. Satan and the fallen angel’s that followed him don’t want the world to understand what’s happening. But their descendants are truly the ones who are dying worldwide the most from this plague. We’re at the end and Satan’s kingdom is falling one domino at a time.

    The image shown is nonsensical. Evolution is not real. If it was then people would become more melanated since melanin is a natural protection from harmful UV Rays. Humans were created in the image of The Most High. They were what the world would classify as “black people” with hair like wool. The fallen ones were different classes of angels that have the genes and phenotypes seen in everyone else (i.e. no melanin,type 1 hair, blonde(blue eyes), red hair(green eyes), auburn hair(gray/hazel eyes), and monolid eye shape).

    The land know as “America” is the real “Israel”. The so-called black people that were taken in captivity were already living in what’s know as North America. The Transatlantic slave trade exported them from “America” to all around the world. The 400 year Deuteronomy curses are ending and plagues are hitting the earth and about to lead up to the grand finally. It’s time to pay for enslaving and oppression the true chosen bloodline. Get ready for the ultimate holy war. Spoiler…The Most High’s team wins.

    • Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 7, 2020 at 7:10 am | Reply

      Indeed my friend: There is a theory bouncing around some of those orthodox groups that hypothesizes as such: Neanderthals are in fact the old biblical Nephilim’s offspring called the Elioud who kept on crossbreeding with us humans back in antediluvian times, and since morphological repercussions took place, they became smaller, but somehow their genetic signature didn’t change much, and it is supported by the writings found in the Book of Giants (found in the Dead Sea Scrolls”), Noah’s son Ham took an Elioud for a wife).

  55. Racist Antracist | October 6, 2020 at 9:38 pm | Reply

    Why does everyone assume the one on the left is meant to be the neanderthal? Racists lol

  56. People of color aren’t neanderthal related. Uncolored the image you’ve published. Tx

  57. Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 7, 2020 at 7:32 am | Reply

    Mister: Is not just the picture, what bothers me is how often we come across crap like this, lately I have been seeing the escalation of these type of news (news? I should say the amplification of racial incidents that always have taken place in our society) promoting discontent, civil unrest, hate, fear, violence, insurrections… Instead of promoting the healing the human condition. These Globalists are using revisionism, pseudo-science, propaganda and cheap tactics to instigate the lowest form of mass misbehavior. Don’t let them, re-educate yourself with the word of God.

  58. Orlando Chils-Diaz | October 7, 2020 at 7:39 am | Reply

    No, you will not silence me.

  59. So for everyone arguing about the picture. It looks to me that the human on the right is a very archaic homo sapien, from africa probably. He’s not even ugly really to me, u guys are very judgemental. The mistake is maybe yes not including a picture of what most science (so far) has determined a neanderthal looks like, but also you guys need to chill.

  60. African American men have roughly 20% European genetic admixture. Some have close to 40%. It is most often carried on the Y chromosome, but this means that black American women also have a significant amount in their autosomal DNA. So yeah, black people from all over the world do have some neaterthal DNA. The exception being the people from sub-saharan Africa. That’s not even a constant, because historical migration and contact with non-African groups.

  61. Just wanted to say THANK YOU to all the commenters here for making my night! I haven’t laughed so hard in a few days and all it took was reading some of your comments! Kudos for tickling my funny bone!

  62. Chris is such a dick.

  63. Really?

    I’m a homosapien without dark complexion

    Maybe skin color isn’t a defining trait of the species, huh?

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