Sero survey: Covid antibodies found in 84% of Kashmir’s population
At least 84% of Kashmir’s population has developed antibodies against Covid-19, the latest sero-survey has revealed. Experts are encouraged by the outcome of the survey, saying it indicates that the third wave of the pandemic won’t be strong in the Valley unless there is a new strain.
The survey was conducted in July across 10 districts of the Valley, taking samples from 5,663 persons, including 2,077 police personnel, healthcare workers and pregnant women.
“Our study among the general population shows that 84.3% of our population was positive for IgG-II (or the anti-spike protein) antibody which is produced after infection with SARS CoV -2 as well as after vaccination,” said Dr S Muhammad Salim Khan, professor and head, community medicine, Government Medical College, Srinagar, and principal investigator of the study.
“The results show that we have achieved a significant level of Covid antibodies among the population, which indicates that the third wave won’t be that strong unless we have a new variant,” Khan told HT.
He, however, cautioned against complacency. “We should not be complacent as new variants could emerge and apprehend immune escape. So we need to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, and all those who haven’t got vaccinated yet, must go and get the doses,” he said.
The IgM antibody, which is usually produced by a recent infection with SARS Cov-2 and can rarely through recent vaccination, was positive in about 20.75 % of the participants. Also, a majority of the study population was yet to take the first dose of vaccine when the study was conducted.
“At the time of study in July 2021, a total of 20.3% participants had received two doses of vaccine and the majority (79.25 %) had received none,” Khan said.
Khan further said that since then, vaccination has scaled up in the Valley, which means sero positivity would also have gone up.
The study also revealed that Srinagar and Anantnag have the highest sero prevalence at 89.7% and 87.2% respectively. “The lowest sero prevalence was in Pulwama district at 78.24%,” it said.
The pan-Kashmir cross-sectional sero-study was conducted by Government Medical College, Srinagar, in collaboration with community medicine departments of SKIMS Medical College, Srinagar, Government Medical College, Anantnag, and Government Medical College, Baramullah, with cooperation from the directorate of health sciences, Kashmir, and supported by National Health Mission.
“Within each district, 10 clusters were randomly selected and within each cluster, 40 samples were collected from individuals aged above seven, after obtaining proper informed consent for the study,” Khan said.
In November 2020, Kashmir’s first ever district-wise sero-survey of Covid-19 had shown anti-bodies in about 39% of the population in the Valley.
At the time, blood samples were collected from a total of 6,230 persons, of which 2,415 were positive for the Covid antibodies.