Article by Sourab Paul, Department of botany- Karimganj college
Genetic mutation among Indians may be the main reason behind the difference in the death rates due to COVID-19 across various states of the country.
Says a study of an international team lead by researchers at Banaras Hindu University (BHU). They exclaimed that the gene responsible for the expression of the Angiotensin Converting Enzyme 2 (AEC2), a protein on the surface of the cell is believed to act as a gateway for the novel coronavirus into the human body.
Recent studies have effectively demonstrated that the AEC2 is encoded by a gene located on the X chromosome.
In the journal Frontiers in Genetics, the researchers looked at the frequency of this mutation described as rs2285666 haplotype among various states of India.
Their spatial analysis showed that in India, frequency of this haplotype varied between 33-100% across different regions.
The researchers for the first time showed a significant positive correlation of the mutation with the lower infection and Case-Fatality Rate (CFR) among Indian populations.
Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Professor at the Department of Zoology, BHU said that the variations identified reduce the susceptibility of a person against the novel corona virus. He also added that if in a region more people with the haplotype were present, the infectiousness of the virus would likely have been lesser. For example ge cited that state wise Maharashtra and Gujarat have the lowest frequency of gene mutation (about 30-40%) while the North-eastern region with a 75-100% mutation in gene has the highest frequency. Professor Chaubey also quoted that People in Western India are more susceptible to the disease than those in Central India or East India or South India or Northeast India.
They also observed that the tribal have higher frequency of this haplotype than the caste population indicating that the tribal populations will be less susceptible than the caste populations to the viral disease.
Additionally, he noted that the virus strains present in India may also be responsible to contribute to the higher death rates.
Since the beginning, it has been hypothesized and later has been observed that Coronavirus
is affecting people differently
The mutation among Indians is 60% and 20% in Europeans which imply that the Indians are
less susceptible to COVID-19 than Europeans and Americans.
The researchers said that there are a few studies on AEC2 gene by other groups but all of them have looked at the frequency differences of various mutations, whereas the team has used more powerful haplotype based analysis
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