In the fourth national sero survey conducted by health officials, it was found that at least one-third of Indians are still vulnerable to Covid-19 infection. The survey also showed that 67.6% of the general population have antibodies against the SARS-CoV2 virus.
Despite the hope that high sero-positivity is bringing, officials have cautioned against extrapolating at a lower level because of the high positivity rate in many parts of the country. Also, the distribution of antibodies among the masses might not be even.
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Sero-positivity rate in India
Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) director-general Balram Bhargava on July 20 said: “The findings clearly show that there is a ray of hope but there is no room for complacency. We have to maintain Covid-appropriate behavior and community engagement.”
However, it is interesting that the sero-positivity rate is higher in the age group of 45-60 with 77.6% compared to the 18-44 age group where it is more mobile. Children showed the lowest exposure to Covid compared to the other two age groups.
However, more than half the children in the 6-17 bracket had antibodies. The sero-positivity was 57.2% in the 6-9 years age group, whereas 61.6% in the 10-17 years age groups showed the presence of antibodies.
Latest national sero survey, and its findings
The latest national survey was conducted during the last ten days of June to the first week of July, including children from six years of age to adults both vaccinated and unvaccinated.
The survey also showed 81% sero-positivity among people vaccinated with the first dose and 89.8% among fully vaccinated people.
The survey also showed that the prevalence of SARS-CoV2 antibodies was higher in females with 69.2% than men with 65.8% sero-positivity. Covid exposure in the survey showed a slightly higher rate in urban areas at 69.6%, whereas 66.7% in rural areas.
Bhargava also said, “The data shows that a third of the population did not have antibodies, which means 40 crore Indians are still vulnerable. However, national serosurvey is no substitute for local (state/district) variations. State-led sentinel sero-surveillance will inform further state-level action.”
Reason behind sero-prevalence
It is being highlighted that sero-prevalence among the masses is due to two reasons: the second wave and vaccination.
Officials said it is preferred that immunity grows through vaccination, and therefore, covid-appropriate behaviour must be followed until large-scale vaccination is achieved.
NITI Aayog member-health Dr. V K Paul said, “It is preferable to get immunity by vaccination, not by infection. That is why we need to continue with our strategy of test, track, treat and vaccinate, and also strict containment.”