Nov 6, 2022

Black Death survivors gave their descendants a genetic advantage — but with a cost

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, evolution, genetics

This could give more immunity to viruses with the gene they found helped people survive the black death.

“We all think that COVID-19 was insane and completely changed the world and our societies,” Barreiro says. “COVID has a mortality rate of about 0.05% – something like that. Now try to project – if it’s even possible – a scenario where 30 to 50% of the population dies.”

Now a new study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature, shows that the Black Death altered more than society: It also likely altered the evolution of the European people’s genome.

In the study, Barreiro and his colleagues found that Black Death survivors in London and Denmark had an edge in their genes – mutations that helped protect against the plague pathogen, Yersinia pestis. Survivors passed those mutations onto their descendants, and many Europeans still carry those mutations today.

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