Here’s how genetics, lifestyle play crucial role in Covid-19 susceptibility

Genetics, immunity and life- style are among the contributing factors for COVID-19 susceptibility, an analysis by an international team of scientists said on Friday. The study was directed by Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj, Director, Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics and Chief Scientist, CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), here, and Prof Gyaneshwer Chaubey, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, a press release from CCMB said.

With growing data, it is becoming quite clear that there are several factors, including genetics, immunity and life- style, that contribute to COVID-19 susceptibility. CCMBs expertise in population studies is proving useful in understanding these details of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Vinay Nandicoori, Director, CCMB, said.

An earlier study suggested that a specific DNA segment, strongly associated with severe COVID-19 infection and hospitalisation, was found in 50 per cent of South Asians as compared to 16 per cent of Europeans.

However, the study concluded that the genetic variants responsible for COVID-19 severity among Europeans may not play a role in coronavirus susceptibility among South Asians, the release said.

The scientists have compared infection and case fatality rates with South Asian genomic data over three different timelines during the pandemic, especially large number of populations from India and Bangladesh in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but it is still unclear why some people experience more severe symptoms and adverse outcomes than others.

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, said Dr Thangaraj.

The study also suggests that the genetic variants correlated with COVID-19 outcomes differ significantly among caste and tribal 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, Prof George van Driem, a renowned linguist and co-author of the study, said.

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