Fourth serosurvey finds 67.6% have antibodies, 40 crore Indians still vulnerable
The fourth round of national serosurvey that was conducted in 70 districts in June-July revealed that a third of the population did not have antibodies against the coronavirus (Covid-19) disease, meaning about 40 crore Indians were still vulnerable to the virus.
The director general of Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Balram Bhargava, said on Tuesday the latest national serosurvey included children between six and 17 years of age and it was found that two-third of the general population, i.e., above the age of six years had SARS-CoV-2 infection.
He said while the overall seroprevalence was 67.6 per cent in the entire population, in the six-nine year age group, it was 57.2 per cent and among 10-17-year-olds, it was 61.6 per cent. In the age group of 18-44 years, it was 66.7 per cent and in 45-60 years, it was 77.6 per cent.
He said 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," Dr Bhargava was quoted as saying in ANI.
As part of the survey, 7,252 healthcare workers were studied. "Ten per cent of these workers had not taken the vaccine, while the overall seroprevalence among them was 85.2 per cent," he said.
Dr Bhargava said implications of fourth serosurvey clearly showed that there was a ray of hope, but no room for complacency. "We must maintain Covid-appropriate behaviour and community engagement. National level serosurvey is not a substitute of state/district-level serosurveys," he added.
Regarding opening of schools, the top doctor said antibody exposure also similar in children as among adults. "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," he said.
Once India starts considering opening schools, Dr Bhargava said it will be wise to open primary ones first before opening secondary schools. "All the support staff whether it be school bus drivers, teachers and other staff in the school need to be vaccinated," he added.