Covid-19 struck East Asia 20,000 years ago, says study

Published on Jun 28, 2021 05:01 AM IST

“Multiple lines of functional evidence support an ancient viral selective pressure, and East Asia is the geographical origin of several modern coronavirus epidemics,” the study says.

A man wearing a face mask and a face shield as protection against Covid-19 enters a disinfection booth at a community quarantine checkpoint in Philippines.(Reuters file photo)
A man wearing a face mask and a face shield as protection against Covid-19 enters a disinfection booth at a community quarantine checkpoint in Philippines.(Reuters file photo)

Research by authors at Australian National University has ciamed that a coronavirus outbreak may have swept across East Asia 20,000 years ago. In an article on The Wire, they said the coronavirus left traces in the DNA of people in what are today China, Japan and Vietnam.

The research by Yassine Souilmi and Ray Tobler was published in Current Biology and claims to have found evidence of genetic adaptation to the coronavirus family of viruses in 42 genes in modern populations in the regions.

“Multiple lines of functional evidence support an ancient viral selective pressure, and East Asia is the geographical origin of several modern coronavirus epidemics,” the study says. “An arms race with an ancient coronavirus, or with a different virus that happened to use similar interactions as coronaviruses with human hosts, may have taken place in ancestral East Asian populations.”

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