Scientists have discovered a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of falling severely ill with, or even dying from Covid-19.
Polish scientists have discovered a gene that they say more than doubles the risk of falling severely ill with, or even dying from Covid-19. The Health Ministry in Warsaw expects the discovery to help identify people who are most at risk from the disease, which has already killed more than 100,000 people in Poland alone. It also plans to include genetic tests when it screens patients for potential Covid-19 infections as soon as the end of June.
The research from the Medical University of Bialystok estimates that the gene could be present in about 14% of the Polish population, compared with around 9% in Europe and 27% in India. It’s the fourth most important factor determining the severity of the illness after age, weight and gender, it said.
A genetic test “may help to better identify people who, in the event of an infection, may be at risk of an acute disease, even before the infection develops,” said Marcin Moniuszko, a professor in charge of the study, which was carried out with the participation of almost 1,500 Poles. The ministry didn’t say if the research had been peer-reviewed.
The discovery may explain one of the reasons — other than vaccination hesitancy — behind the country’s high Covid-19 death toll. The average excess mortality during the pandemic is above 20%, one of the worst results in the European Union, Eurostat data show.
Coronavirus: Latest global developments
Here are the latest developments in the coronavirus crisis:
– PM Johnson’s problems deepen –
The UK government apologises to Queen Elizabeth II, after revelations Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s staff broke coronavirus restrictions by partying on the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral, where she had to sit alone in church.
– Australia to detain Djokovic –
Australia says it will detain unvaccinated Novak Djokovic this weekend after again stripping him of his visa, in a dramatic setback to the tennis world number one’s goal of winning a record 21st Grand Slam.
– Dutch relax tough Covid curb –
The Netherlands is to ease some of the toughest Covid restrictions in Europe, allowing shops, gyms, hairdressers and sex workers to reopen, Prime Minister Mark Rutte says.
Bars, restaurants, cafes and cultural locations will however remain closed until at least January 25, Rutte tells the first news conference since a new government was sworn in earlier this week.
– Hong Kong transit passenger ban –
Hong Kong bans passengers from more than 150 nations from transiting through its airport, in the latest radical measure to conform with China’s zero-Covid policy.
– Jabs for 5-11s –
Norway says it will open Covid vaccinations to 5-11 year-olds on a voluntary basis but stops short of issuing an official recommendation.
Vaccinations of the same age group also start in Sao Paulo, Brazil, a month after the green light by health authorities in spite of criticisms from Covid-sceptic President Jair Bolsonaro.
– Cases receding in New York –
The record Omicron variant wave is beginning to recede in New York and other major US cities official data shows, with the downward trend following similar patterns seen in Britain and in South Africa.
– Polish medical advisers resign –
Thirteen of the Polish prime minister’s 17 medical advisers on coronavirus resign, accusing the populist conservative government of inaction in the face of the pandemic.
– Rwanda gets tougher –
Rwandan authorities tell public sector workers to get vaccinated against Covid or resign, further tightening the strict pandemic measures which have seen people flee the country.
– Tunisians defy protest ban –
Tunisian police use tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of demonstrators protesting against President Kais Saied’s July power grab, in defiance of a ban on gatherings over Covid.
– Swedish PM positive –
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson tests positive for Covid-19, her office says, making her the third party leader to catch the disease following a meeting earlier this week.
– Six Nations games to go ahead –
Rugby Union Six Nations matches in Wales will be able to go ahead after the Welsh government announces it is easing coronavirus restrictions in the coming weeks.
– New cases at Man City –
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says that his Premier League champions have been hit by fresh coronavirus cases ahead of their match with second placed Chelsea.
– More than 5.5 million dead –
The coronavirus has killed at least 5,519,380 people since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources on Friday.
The United States has recorded the most Covid deaths with 846,488, followed by Brazil with 620,545, India on 485,350 and Russia 319,911.
Taking into account excess mortality linked to Covid-19, the WHO estimates the overall death toll could be two to three times higher.