Genes protective during Black Death may now be increasing autoimmune disorders

In the article, “Will the COVID-19 pandemic change the genes — and health — of future generations?” by Robert H. Shmerling, MD, the impact of pandemics on genetic changes is explored. Researchers have found that survivors of the Black Death in the 1300s had genes that helped fight off infection, leading to changes in the population’s gene pool over a few generations. The concept of selective pressure in evolution is discussed, with examples such as antibiotic resistance. The article poses the question of whether COVID-19 will have a similar genetic impact, noting that some genes associated with severe COVID may reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases. The insights gained from studying past pandemics could be valuable in preparing for future disease outbreaks.

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