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Isolated Populations In India Are Vulnerable To COVID-19: Researchers

Researchers found that several isolated and indigenous people such as Andaman Islanders with long DNA segments (homozygous) in their genome are most likely to be more susceptible to COVID-19

Isolated Populations In India Are Vulnerable To COVID-19: Researchers
  • Researchers traced the origin of Andaman Islanders
  • A high-density genomic data of over 1,600 individuals was investigated
  • Study called for protection, utmost care for isolated populations

Hyderabad: Scientists from the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics here and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) have found that several isolated and indigenous people such as Andaman Islanders with long DNA segments (homozygous) in their genome are most likely to be more susceptible to COVID-19. A press release from CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) said the infection of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has impacted various ethnic groups all over the world and recent studies suggested that the indigenous groups in Brazil have been massively affected by COVID-19.

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The research carried out by Kumarasamy Thangaraj, Director of CDFD, part of CCMB, here, Prof Gyaneshwer Chaubey of BHU and others was published online recently in the journal Genes and Immunity. Mr Thangaraj, who traced the origin of Andaman Islanders, said,

We have investigated a high-density genomic data of more than 1,600 individuals from 227 ethnic populations. We found 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 (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2) gene variants that make individuals susceptible for COVID-19. They found that the Jarawa and Onge populations have high frequency of these mutations, the release said.

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, Prof Chaubey said.

“Results obtained from this study suggest that there is a need to have a high priority protection and utmost care for the isolated populations, so that there would not be any loss of some of the living treasures of modern human evolution”, Vinay Kumar Nandicoori, Director, CCMB said.

Also Read: New Tool Predicts Changes That May Make COVID Variants More Infectious

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India. 

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