In its fourth nationwide serosurvey, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which is backed by the Department of Health Services (DHS), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoH&FW), has discovered that up to two-thirds (67.6%) of the Indian population above the age of six have already been infected with the novel coronavirus. At the same time, 40 crore people are still at risk.
The ICMR held the fourth round of the national blood serum survey, which tests for antibodies, commonly called a serosurvey. The purpose of the study was to project the seroprevalence of SARS-C0V-2 antibodies. “It gives the data on “the proportion of the population exposed to the novel coronavirus, including asymptomatic individuals,” the ICMR states the reason behind conducting serosurveys in the country.
It was held across 70 districts of 21 states in June and July 2021. These are the same districts where earlier three rounds were conducted during May-June (2020); August-September (2020); and December-January (2020-2021).
An aggregate amount of 28,975 people were tested for antibodies, particularly to the SARS-CoV2 virus, and it was the first instance when children between the ages of 6 and 17 took part in the survey. The Indian Council of Medical Research director, Dr Balram Bhargava, described that the entire seroprevalence was 67.6% in the country’s population. In the six-nine year age group, it was 57.2%, and among 10-17-year-olds, it was 61.6%. It was 66.7% and 77.6% in 18-44 years and 45-60 years, respectively.
He said that there was no difference in seroprevalence in men and women and rural and urban areas. “Among those who have not received any vaccine against the virus, the seroprevalence was 62.3 per cent, while those with one dose of the jab, it was 81 per cent. In those who received both the doses, it was 89.8 per cent,” news agency ANI quoted Dr Bhargava as saying. He stressed the administration of vaccines and asserted strict compliance of COVID appropriate behaviour.
When it comes to frontline workers, 7,252 healthcare workers were studied in this survey where “10% of these workers had not taken the vaccine, while the overall seroprevalence among them was 85.2%,” said Dr Bhargava. He added his remarks on reopening schools and stated that the antibody exposure resembles in children as among adults, including “all the support staff whether it be school bus drivers, teachers and other staff in the school need to be vaccinated.”
The senior doctor maintained, “Once India starts considering, it’ll be wise to open primary schools first before opening secondary schools. We know clearly that children can handle viral infections much better than adults. Some Scandinavian countries did not shut their primary schools in any Covid waves.”
It is important to note that Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of Covaxin, has started trials for kids. In addition, Ahmedabad-based Zydus Cadila has also requested emergency use authorisation (EUA) for its vaccine candidate for people above 12.