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Indigenous communities reached verge of extinction due to COVID : Study

The study also found that India is home to several indigenous and smaller communities including Andaman Islanders, who are living in isolation for tens of thousands of years.

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Hyderabad: A recent study on genomic analysis of several Indian populations conducted jointly by the CSIR-CCMB and BHU, Varanasi, found that many of the indigenous communities have reached the verge of extinction due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The study also found that India is home to several indigenous and smaller communities including Andaman Islanders, who are living in isolation for tens of thousands of years.

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The infection of Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has impacted various ethnic groups all over the world.

Recent studies suggest that the indigenous groups in Brazil have been massively affected by COVID-19 and the death rate was twice as high among the indigenous communities of Brazil, the study material released by CCMB (Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology) said here.
Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj from CSIR-CCMB, who is presently Director of CDFD (Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics), Hyderabad and Prof Gyaneshwer Chaubey of BHU, who conducted the study, 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.

Dr Thangaraj, who traced the origin of Andaman Islanders, said, “We have investigated high-density genomic data of >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 strict endogamy, making them highly susceptible for COVID-19 infection”.

The Researchers have also assessed the ACE2 gene variants that make individuals susceptible to COVID-19. They found that the Jarawa and Onge populations have a high frequency of these mutations.
“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 assess 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 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.

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