About 60,000 years ago, a human had a sexual encounter with a Neanderthal. Now, a genetic scientist has claimed that this single sexual act caused the deaths of up to a million people during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As of June 12, 2022, 12:26 GMT, the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak had killed 6,331,211 people. Now, an English scientist has published research into the effect of the genetic differences between the lungs of Covid patients. His results, published in Nature Genetics suggested that just one single “romantic liaison” about 60,000 years ago, between a Neanderthal and a human, caused up to a million deaths during the recent pandemic.
A new study concluded that a quickie between a Neanderthal and a human 60,000 years ago could be the cause of up to a million deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic. ( Kovalenko I /Adobe Stock)
A Single Interspecies Relationship Led “Up to a Million” Covid Deaths
While you’ve heard the word “genes” a thousand times, do you know what a gene actually is? According to MedilinePlus, genes are made up of DNA and represent the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. The microcosmic mysteries were greatly taken away from genes when an international research effort called the Human Genome Project determined the sequence of the human genome’s 3.2 billion letters of DNA, revealing humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 different genes encoded with ancestral data.
At the recent Cheltenham Science Festival, Professor James Davies, associate professor of genomics at Oxford University’s Radcliffe Department of Medicine, said one of these genes (LZTFL1) “caused a common genetic quirk that makes lungs susceptible to infection.” The researcher concluded that the offending LZTFL1 gene was passed along in “a single interspecies relationship and a single child,” that led to hundreds of thousands, and up to a million, Covid deaths.
The study concluded that a the LZTFL1 gene had led to up to a million Covid deaths. ( Tomas Ragina /Adobe Stock)
Covid Death Research Not Entirely New
LZTFL1 causes cells to produce too much of a certain protein on the surface of some people’s lungs. Coronavirus latches onto this protein enabling the disease to spread through the lungs more readily, which can be deadly. And supporting the professor’s claims, this so-called genetic quirk is more common in people from South Asia, which is possibly why India experienced higher death tolls during the pandemic. However, this is not altogether a new finding.
Last February I wrote an Ancient Origins news feature about a team of scientists who in 2020 claimed that they had discovered “a Neanderthal Covid gene which decreased our ability to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19.” These scientists, from Japan’s Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University ( OIST) and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Germany, found that “interbreeding between modern humans and Neanderthals meant we inherited the gene around 60,000 years ago.” They concluded that people with this lung-weakening gene “are up to three times more likely to need ventilation if they catch the virus.”
Study argues that a single sexual liaison caused up to a million Covid deaths. ( Kovalenko I /Adobe Stock)
A Single Sexual Liaison Causing 28 Letter Changes and 1 Million Deaths
So sure was Dr. Davis of his findings, that he pointed to a single Neanderthal and human sexual event as having caused the genetic conditions that cause the lungs to be more susceptible to Covid infection. And if this one sexual liaison had not occurred, up to a million people might not have died from Covid, according to the researchers.
This is not just “romantic” speculation. The researcher calculated that the gene comes from “28 single-letter changes, which can be tracked all the way back.” Thus, he concluded that the gene came from “a single event.”
Speaking of the sexual liaison, Professor Simon Underdown, a biological anthropologist at Oxford Brookes University, told the Science Festival that Neanderthal groups were widely dispersed and only comprised around 20 to 25 individuals. He agrees that it was a single sexual liaison that led to many modern humans having bad reactions to severe forms of Covid. However, he highlighted how “remarkable” it was that a Neanderthal should meet a Homo sapiens and have a one-off sexual encounter that created the Covid-weakening pulmonary gene in modern humans.
Top image: Cave art depicting two figures copulating from Jabbaren, Algeria. Source: Trust for African Rock Art / Fair Use
By Ashley Cowie