The small, isolated populations of India are more susceptible to COVID-19, as per a press release from the Centre For Cellular And Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad.
"India is home to several indigenous and smaller communities including Andaman Islanders, who are living in isolation for tens of thousands of years. Recently, Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj from CSIR-CCMB, who is presently Director of Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD), Hyderabad and Prof. Gyaneshwer Chaubey of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi jointly led the genomic analysis of several Indian populations. They found that populations that carry similar long DNA segments (homozygous) in their genome are most likely to be more susceptible to COVID-19. The research has been published online recently in the journal Genes and Immunity," reads the release.
Dr Thangaraj, who traced the origin of Andaman Islanders, said, "We have investigated a high- density genomic data of more than 1600 individuals from 227 ethnic populations. We found a high frequency of contiguous lengths of homozygous genes among Onge, Jarawa (Andaman Tribes) and a few more populations who are in isolation and follow a strict endogamy, making them highly susceptible for COVID-19 infection".
The researchers have also assessed the ACE2 gene variants, that make individuals susceptible for COVID-19 were found in a high frequency in Jarawa and Onge populations.
"There have been some speculations on the effect of COVID-19 among isolated populations. However, for the first time, we have used genomic data to access the risk of COVID-19 on the small and isolated populations", said Prof Chaubey, Professor of Molecular Anthropology at BHU, Varanasi.
"Results obtained from this study suggest that we need to have a high priority protection and utmost care for the isolated populations so that we don't lose some of the living treasures of modern human evolution", said Dr Vinay Kumar Nandicoori, Director, CCMB, Hyderabad.
Other participants of this study include Prajjval Pratap Singh, Prof VN Mishra, Prof Royana Singh and Dr Abhishek Pathak from BHU, Varanasi; Dr Prashanth Suravajhala from Amrita University, Kerala; Pratheusa Machha from CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad; Dr Rakesh Tamang from Calcutta University, Dr Ashutosh K Rai from Saudi Arabia, Dr Pankaj Shrivastava from FSL MP, and Prof Keshav K Singh from University of Alabama USA. (ANI)