The research shows that the epidemic, which was present in the region for multiple years, left traces of itself in the genetic make-up of people from the region. “It should make us worry,” evolutionary biologist David Enard of the University of Arizona said, per the New York Times. “What is going on right now might be going on for generations and generations.” The study does not have good implications regarding the current COVID-19 pandemic, at least if it refuses to go anywhere.
Scientists working on the study compared the DNA of thousands of individuals across 26 different populations throughout the world in search of genes important for surviving coronaviruses. Interestingly, the results showed that the people in East Asia had adapted to this virus, but it appeared limited to that region. “When we compared them to populations around the world, we couldn’t find the signal,” added Yassine Souilmi of the University of Adelaide in Australia. It is believed these genes come from evolutionary mutations somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 years ago.
“The timing is a complicated thing,” added Aida Andres, an evolutionary geneticist at the University College London who wasn’t involved in the study. “Whether that happened a few thousand years before or after-I personally think it’s something that we cannot be as confident as.” Scientists are now studying to see what drugs could be utilized to fight COVID-19 by looking closer at these genes which evolved due to the suspected ancient epidemic.