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South Asians not genetically vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection, reveals study

South Asians not genetically vulnerable to severe COVID-19 infection, reveals study

An international team of researchers conducted the study to ascertain why severe symptoms and adverse outcomes are experienced by some people who are infected with COVID-19 and not others

The study has attempted to analyse the role of the DNA segment in establishing  COVID-19 outcomes among South Asians The study has attempted to analyse the role of the DNA segment in establishing COVID-19 outcomes among South Asians

A new study has shown that the genetic variants responsible for causing COVID-19 severity among Europeans may not play a role in virus susceptibility among South Asians.

An international team of researchers conducted the study to ascertain why severe symptoms and adverse outcomes are experienced by some people who are infected with COVID-19 and not others.

The study has attempted to analyse the role of the DNA segment in establishing  COVID-19 outcomes among South Asians.  

The report titled "The major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 does not show any association among South Asian populations", was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

"Our result reiterates the unique genetic origin of South Asian populations. A dedicated Genome-wide Association Study on South Asian Covid-19 patients is the need of time for us in the Asian sub-continent," said Prajival Pratap Singh, the first author of the study.

"In this study, we have compared infection and case fatality rates with South Asian genomic data over three different timelines during the pandemic. We have especially looked into a large number of populations from India and Bangladesh," stated Dr Thangaraj, Director, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics and chief scientist, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), added,

The study also showed that genetic variants when correlated with COVID-19 outcomes in patients, differed significantly among tribal and caste populations of Bangladesh. "Scientists working in the area of population studies should be more cautious to interpret their findings by differentiating caste and tribal populations, more explicitly so in the Bangladeshi population," said Prof George van Driem, a co-author of the study.

"With growing data, it is becoming quite clear that there are several factors including genetics, immunity and lifestyle are the contributing factors for COVID-19 susceptibility. CCMB's expertise in population studies are proving useful in understanding these details of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic," explained Dr Vinay Nandicoori, Director, CCMB.

An earlier study conducted on Europeans suggested that genetic variants in a specific DNA segment were strongly linked to the severity of COVID-19 infection. The research had concluded that this DNA segment was there in 50 per cent of the South Asian population as compared to 16 per cent of Europeans.

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