COVID-19 and Darwin’s Natural Selection among Humans


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Will a population finally emerge that will be naturally immune to SARS-CoV 2 Virus?  

Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the origin of new species played a key role in origin of modern man. There was a continuous negative selection pressure, in the wild natural world we lived in, against those individuals that were unfit to survive in the new and changing environment. Those with the desired suitable characteristics were favoured by the nature and went on to survive and procreate. In due course of time, these suitable characteristics accumulated in progenies giving rise to a population that was markedly different from the former.  

However, this process of survival of the fittest almost came to grind halt with the growth of human civilisation and industrialization. Welfare state and advances in the medical sciences meant that people who otherwise would not have survived due to negative selection pressure against them, survived and procreated. This almost led to a pause in the natural selection among humans. Actually, it may have led to the creation of artificial selection among human species. 

With the advent of COVID-19, there seems to be a negative selection pressure working against those who may be genetically or otherwise (due to their lifestyle, co-morbidities etc.) predisposed to develop severe symptoms, ultimately leading to death. Majority of people are either unaffected or develop mild to moderate symptoms and survive. It is less than 5% of population who suffer high risk of severe symptoms, damage to lungs and consequent mortality. The way the variants are evolving, particularly how it happened in Italy at the beginning of pandemic and current happenings in India seem to suggest that the population predisposed to develop severe symptoms run the risk of elimination. This becomes even more pertinent particularly in the context of possible ineffectiveness of the currently available vaccines against ever mutating virus.   

Apparently, COVID-19 seems to have re-started natural selection among human beings.  


Umesh Prasad
Chief Editor, Scientific European


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