Led by Prof Gyaneshwer Chaubey of Banaras Hindu University (BHU), the study reports that state-wise presence of ACE2 (encoding Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2) gene varies from a scale of 33%-100%. The presence of this gene is less in Northwestern and western part of the country and so is the percentage of cases. On the same parameter, the percentage, both in terms of presence of the gene and number of positive cases and mortality, decreases as we move towards eastern parts of the country.
The report is published in the journal named Frontier in Genetics (Switzerland) and considered as 5th best journal worldwide with an impact factor of 3.63. The report is based on the analysis of the haplotypes downstream to rs2285666 (a kind of mutation in human gene) among Indian population.
“Moving a step ahead of our recent study, we have mapped the spatial distribution of this gene in India populace and studied its association with Covid-19 susceptibility in Indian states”, said Prof Chaubey while talking to TOI.
“Our report shows that amongst the population of states like Maharashtra and Gujarat, the presence of this ‘protective gene’ (in %) was 33% and 40% respectively, while the percentage of infections in these two state was 26.3% and 11.2% respectively. When we see the percentage of case fatality rate (CFR), it was 3.3% and 3.4% respectively, which was highest in India”, explained the expert. The date pertains to cases reported till the month of August 2020, he clarified.
In comparison to this, the presence of this ‘protective gene’ in populace of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar was 46% and 57.5%, respectively and the percentage of infection was 5.9% and 4.0%, respectively.
“Interestingly, on the same parameter, the presence of this gene was 100% in people of the state of Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura and the rate of infection was 0.1% and 0.3%, respectively. Infact, in these two states, there was nil corona positive cases till May this year and a meager percent in August.
“The frequency gradient (lower to higher) is observed from Northwestern and Western region to Northeastern part of the subcontinent. In other words, as we move from Northwest and Western region of the country towards Eastern states, the percentage of the presence of this gene goes higher”, said Prof Chaubey.
The study was also analysed in terms of Bangladeshi populations as well.
The team found out that the percentage, of the presence of this gene, varied between 34-75%.
“In India as well as in Bangladesh, we observed that the tribal populations have higher frequency of this haplotype than the caste populations. Thus, it is likely that the tribal populations will be less susceptible than the caste populations”, said Prof Chaubey.
This research team includes research students from BHU including Anshika, Audditiya, Debashruti, Rudra, Nargis, Prajjval and Nikhil, besides Dr Pawan Kumar Dubey of IMS BHU and Dr Abhishek Pathak, Scientist Dr Neeraj Rai of Birbal Sahni Institute Lucknow and Dr Ghazi Sultana, senior scientist of University of Dhaka Bangladesh.