Indians are more immune to coronavirus

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BY: Mohammad Iqbal Sultani

Globally the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc as the figures of infected people are rising with each passing day, and so is the number of dead.

Coronaviruses are family of viruses that cause diseases in animals. But most cause cold-like symptoms. Two other coronaviruses – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) are much more severe.

The new virus, officially called as COVID-19 has mutated into two strains — one more aggressive than other. The source of the coronavirus is believed to be a wet market in Wuhan (China) which sold both dead and live animals. The risk of viruses jumping from animals to humans is more here. Bats are thought to be the source of Covid-19 as bats are host of wide range of zoonotic viruses including Ebola, HIV and Rabies.

A study conducted by a group of researchers at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB), New Delhi, has revealed that the severity of Covid-19 in India is comparatively less than what it is in other countries. This is because of unique micro RNA called has-miR72b which successfully mutates the coronavirus responsible for Covid-19. In other words the Indians have better immunity compared to other countries, which is believed to help us to fight pandemic better.

The findings, which is yet to be published, claim that the mutation spectrums of viruses were different in four countries — USA, Italy, Nepal and India. Surprisingly, the sequence from Nepal showed no variations, while maximum number of mutations were identified in Indian sequence. “We speculate that the presence of country-specific mutation spectrum may explain the severity of illness in other countries compared to India,” said Dr Dinesh Gupta, lead researcher who authored the paper.

The researcher said the presence of unique mutation in Italy is probably responsible for the sudden upsurge in the number of affected cases and deaths there. However, this speculation has to be verified with more evidence.

Role of microRNA

Host antiviral miRNA play a crucial role in the regulation of immune response to the virus infection. Many known human miRNAs appear to be able to target viral genes and their functions like interferencing replication, translation and expression. Out of all the miRNAs, hsa-miR-27b is the only unique miRNA specific to India — sars-cov2 — and showed no significant complimentary-based nucleotide-binding with the strain of sars-cov2 from other countries, the study observes.

Though there were reports that the use of HIV anti-viral drugs have no effects in treating Covid-19 cases in China, the Indian Council of Medical Research has issued guidelines after similar drugs showed positive results in treating patients. A few FDA approved anti-malarial drugs and anti-viral drugs were used with significant success.

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