Scientists at the University of Oxford have identified a gene that has the potential to double the possibility of lung failure and death due to Covid-19 among people of South Asian origin, a study published in the scientific journal Nature Genetics on Thursday has found.

The gene, LZTFL1, may explain why people of South Asian descent are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, according to scientists.

However, the researchers pointed out that inoculation against Covid-19 is very important for communities that are at increased risk of developing a serious infection due to the gene. The threat of a severe infection can be combatted through immunisation, the study said, according to PTI.

The scientists said that 60% of people with South Asian ancestry had the risky gene when compared to 15% of people with European ancestors. The gene was present in only 2% of people of African-Caribbean descent and 1.8% of people of East Asian descent.

The researchers used machine learning and molecular biology to study the gene.

LZTFL1 impedes a protective mechanism that cells lining the lungs use to defend themselves from the SARS-Cov-2 virus, that causes Covid-19, PTI quoted the researchers as saying.

The protective mechanism of these cells against the coronavirus is to turn into less specialised cells, making it more difficult for the virus…

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