The Central Regional Centre, Nagpur of Anthropological Survey of India, Nagpur organised one day webinar on Molecular Anthropology of COVID: Issues, Impact and Innovations, on 29th August 2020 with a total of six invited lectures for the day. The speakers included eminent scholars from Universities and Anthropological Survey of India.
At the outset the honorary speakers and the distinguished participants were welcomed by Dr. Ratna Dhar, Superintending Anthropologist and Head of Office of Central Regional Centre, Nagpur. Giving a brief about the Webinar, she mentioned about the huge response gathered by 500 registered participants. She explained the very need of the theme for discussion undertaken for the Webinar. Dr .Dhar invited the Director of this organisation to offer the keynote address. Prof. Vinay Kumar Srivastava, Director, Anthropological Survey of India in his address mentioned the particular significance of Molecular Anthropology and Biological Anthropology to understand the nature and propagation of the pandemic.
He also emphasised how this organisation under able leadership of the Physical Anthropologists will soon come up with significant contributions in this field and would help the society for a better understanding of the diseases. His lecture included mentions of many noble literatures and their examples were enthusiastic for the gathering. In his lecture, Prof. Vinay Srivastava quotes “Anthropology is the child of Darwinian theories”
The lecture session started with the deliberation by Respected Dr. Kallur N. Saraswathy, Assistant Professor from University of Delhi. She lucidly explained the underlying causes of less fatality rates in India and how less lethality is associated with more spread of a particular RNA Virus. Her talk also focussed on the environment and genetic interaction for immunology. Interestingly, Dr.Saraswathy rightly mentioned the cladogenesis of Corona Virus and how future research can be aimed with the hypothesis.
The second lecture of the day by Prof. Arup Ratan Bandyopadhyay, Department of Anthropology, University of Calcutta envisaged the Host Risk factors and Immune Responses and Vaccination. When the world is apprehensive about vaccines and how much it would be successful, the talk discussed about the molecular biology of vaccine, and the possible outcomes. Prof. Bandyopadhyay also deliberated upon the genetic factors involved in COVID discussing on the history and transmission of the virus, with special emphasis on Androgenesis.
Dr. Biswanath Sarkar, Retired Superintending Anthropologist from AnSI gave a beautiful understanding of genetic predisposition and its protective and destructive effects of the viral infections. He explained the taxonomy and epidemiological characters of COVID, briefing about the genome organisation of it. Dr. Sarkar’s deliberation also enlightened with the founder effect of loss of function of certain regions of genes and how ethnic specific medicine would be beneficial for control.
The second session of the webinar had speakers from Anthropological Survey of India, and it started with the talk of Dr. B.P Urade, Superintending Anthropologist. His lecture was designed to make a better understanding of the biology of the virus, its genetics and transcription methods. He also discussed about the fact that females have a protective effect over males due to the fact that females possess more Vitamin C than males and because mRNA levels go down with the advancement of age.
The day progressed with the lecture by Dr. Abhishikta Ghosh Roy, Anthropologist. Her deliberation was directed to understanding of the zoonotic origin of the virus and the genetic similarity of host to host for the pathogen. She elaborated on the genetic understanding of involvement of X-Chromosome for COVID, and the importance of TLR genes, discussing on the possible reasons of males being affected more than females. Dr. Ghosh Roy specifically aimed to make an understanding of how certain co-morbidites are more vulnerable for COVID than others, with special reference to Cancer and how cancer
care is being disrupted. She also came up with some research ideas that can be undertaken for better understanding of the disease having prognostic values.
Dr.Venugopal, Assistant Anthropologist, was the final speaker for the day, before the webinar progressed for ritualistic closing. His talk vividly explained about the dynamic approach of Molecular Anthropologists to understand the viral interaction with human genome. Dr.Venugopal discussed about the Major Histocompatibility complex of humans and its significance in understanding COVID. The effect of SARS-CoV2 to respiratory system and its degree of effect was explained in his talk. He also came up with possible research ideas from Gut Microbium that can be helpful in understanding the disease, and how an all India study will be beneficial. From the discussion, it was evident that Microbium study was initiated from Department of Anthropology, University of Calcutta in 2014 to understand the Anthropology of the Microbium under able supervision of Prof. Arup Ratan Bandyopadhyay, his presence in the webinar allowed a better understanding of it.
The deliberations gathered heap of compliments and congratulatory messages, along with some significant questions that were taken up for discussion. As the day approached its end, Prof. Vinay Kumar Srivastava, Director, Anthropological Survey of India summarised the day with his significant inputs.
All the speakers were introduced by the Research fellows, Ms. KiranKairi and Ms. Priyama Bhattacharjee from the regional centre, the lecture moderation was done by Dr.Abhishikta Ghosh Roy. Shri Sanjay Shukla, Asst Keeper offered vote of thanks to all the individuals attached with the successful accomplishment of the webinar, mentioning their roles for the same. The webinar ended with a hope to have a recent one soon.