It has always been curious that the death rate from Covid-19 varies in different countries. Whilst the spread of the virus might be related to the measures applied by governments many have not been comfortable with an implied criticism of rates of death in those countries. Whilst medical treatments might differ slightly between countries and medical hardware such as ventilators and CPAP machines might play a part the fact that some patients get the disease in a worse form than others is a bit of a mystery. In part it seems genetics, viral load at time of infection, blood groups, ethnicity, age and population density may all play a part.
According to this pre-print paper there might be an additional reason. Lets be clear from the start this is not a recent mutation, its a natural variant that has always been in the coronavirus infection. This is early research on protein sequencing which is a bit technical but we don’t need the details to appreciate the main implications.
It seems that genetic sequencing has revealed that there is a natural variant of Sars Cov-2 that has a longer protein chain than most coronaviruses and that it affects and suppresses interferon production. Various types of interferon are found to suppress inflammation and reduce the cytokine storm that is know too occur in severe cases of Covid-19.
When we start to compare the number of people who have died from the the number of people who have contracted Covid-19 in each individual country some worrying consequences reveal themselves.
The deaths per million of population at 614 are from 21,007 cases whereas the same number (614) in the UK is from 5744.
This might be from treatment differences in part but the distribution of this natural variant with the long chain version of the ORF3b variant clearly plays a huge part. If the US had the same distribution of that variant as the UK they would be looking at nearly 750,000, thats 3/4 of a million dead. Europe does seem to have taken the brunt of this disease.