Some isolated populations in India, such as the Onge and Jarawa tribes of the Andaman Islands, have a higher genetic risk of COVID-19, according to a study by researchers at CSIR-CCMB and BHU.
The study, published in the journal Genes and Immunity, suggests that the government should consider high priority protection and the utmost care of these isolated groups, so that “we do not lose some of the living treasures of modern human evolution.” .
The research team co-led by Kumarasamy Thangaraj of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) Hyderabad and Professor Gyaneshwer Chaubey of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi noted that the expansion of S-CoV The -2 virus has affected various ethnic groups around the world.
Recently, it was reported that indigenous groups in Brazil have been heavily affected by the S-CoV-2 virus, which has a death rate twice that of other communities, they said.
It has also been shown that many indigenous communities are on the verge of extinction due to this pandemic, according to the researchers.
They noted that India also has several indigenous and smaller communities, including Andaman Islanders living in isolation.
The researchers, involving 11 scientists from 13 institutions around the world, conducted a genomic analysis of 227 Indian populations, finding that populations with long homozygous segments in their genome have a higher sensitivity to COVID-19. Homozygosity is a genetic disease in which an individual inherits the same genetic variants or alleles for a particular gene from both parents.
“There might be speculation about the effect of COVID-19 among isolated populations, but for the first time we have used genomic data to access the risk they face,” said Chaubey, professor of molecular anthropology at BHU.
“This approach would be useful in quantifying a population’s risk of COVID-19,” he told PTI.
The research team studied high-density genomic data from more than 1,600 individuals from 227 populations and found a high frequency of COVID-19 risk alleles among the Andaman Onge and Jarawa tribes.
Among the groups studied, the Andaman Islanders had the highest number as well as the longest series of homozygous segments (ROHs). “Since smaller populations experiencing drift may have a higher risk of such a pandemic, we analyzed the ROH among South Asian populations and identified several populations with longer homozygous segments,” the authors noted. of the study.
“Long periods of homozygosity in certain genomic regions can increase susceptibility to COVID-19. Thus, we suggest an extremely careful management of this pandemic among the isolated populations of South Asia “, they added.
The great Andamanese, the onge, the jarawa and the sentries are the indigenous tribal populations of these islands.
“The total census of these aborigines is less than 1,000,” said Mr. Chaubey.
The study noted that these tribal people live in protected areas and that the general public are not allowed to interact with them. However, given the number of cases on the island among the general population, they are more at risk. , mainly to illegal intruders and to health. workers, “he added.
The other researchers in the study are from the University of Amrita, Kerala, the University of Calcutta in West Bengal, the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Madhya Pradesh, and the University of Alabama, United States. United.
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