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Sunday, April 11, 2021

ICMR Survey: One in five Indians have been exposed to coronavirus

ICMR's third serosurvey: 21.5% of the population above 18 has antibodies against Covid-19. Concludes one in five in India had the virus exposure.

Indian Council of Medical Research or ICMR’s third survey concluded one in five Indians have been exposed to coronavirus. The third serosurvery was conducted between December 17 2020 and January 8 2021.

Highlights of the ICMR’s third survey :

  • Approximately 21 percent of the population who are above age 10 years are identified to have an exposure to the virus.
  • This exposure percentage represents almost a three fold increase since the second serosurvery conducted in August 2020. And a 30 times increase since the first serosurvery conducted in May 2020.
  • A break down by rural – urban revealed: A jump in rural area exposure to 19% compared to 5.2% since last survey. In the urban slum areas, the exposure percentage jumped to 31% from 16% since August 2020.
  • Of the 7171 healthcare workers surveyed, 26% of the doctors and nurses had antibodies presence.
  • The overall breakdown by age groups: 19.9%, 25% and 23% of the exposure observed in population of 18-44, 10-17 and over 45 years age groups. Notably, only 5.4% of the children are reported with an exposure in the second survey.
  • At 22.7%, women recorded more exposure percentage compared to men at 20.3%. ICMR’s third survey reported.

ICMR’s third survey methodology:

A total of 700 villages across 70 districts of 21 states are considered in the survey. Unlike the first and second serosurvery, the third survey looked for a spike protein antibodies.  The earlier surveys looked for antibodies against the viral nucleocapsid.

ICMR’s third survey results are announced by Dr. Balram Bhargava, Director General, ICMR, said at a press briefing on 4th of Feb 2021. Considering the present situation, the director asserted: “The message is that a large proportion of the population remains vulnerable. Vaccines are necessary and there can be no complacency with regards to masks, social distancing and hand hygiene” .

India’s Covid-19 growth and response:

Around the time of September 2020, India recorded approximately a 100,000 cases every day. At that rate, India was projected to become the top country in terms of reported total Covid cases. The pandemic sent India’s economy projections to an oblivion. However by early 2021, the numbers had taken a downward trend.

ICMR Survey - Covid Exposure. Cases Growth and Decline in India
Picture: Google Consolidated search result. Each day shows new cases reported since the previous day · Updated less than 2 days ago· Source: JHU CSSE COVID-19 Data.

This sudden decline in the cases came in as a surprise to many. Speaking to NPR, Genevie Fernandes, a public health researcher with the Global Health Governance program at the University of Edinburgh expressed :“It’s the million-dollar question. Obviously, the classic public health measures are working: Testing has increased, people are going to hospitals earlier and deaths have dropped“. Among many reasons, wide spread use of mandated masks in the public spaces, India’s climatic conditions that contribute to its heat and humidity may have controlled the spread of the virus. According to NPR, a review of hundreds of scientific articles, published in September in the journal PLOS One, found that warm and wet climates seem to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

India is now one of the few countries that took vaccination drive as an aggresive measure to further control the virus. Confirming the downward trend, the Serosurvey also pointed out “47 districts have not reported any new case of Covid-19 and 251 districts have not registered any new deaths in the last three weeks.”

Hindustan times further reported ICMR’s third survey citing of vaccine beneficiaries.

So far, 49,93,427 beneficiaries have been vaccinated in the country out of which 11 states and Union Territories, including Tamil Nadu, Assam, Ladakh, Chandigarh, Meghalaya and Manipur, have covered 30 per cent or less healthcare workers through the COVID-19 vaccination…… 1,239 private facilities and 5,912 public facilities are being used as Covid-19 immunisation sites in the country as of now.


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