Pune Covid-19 sero survey suggests 51.5% have antibodies
The first sero survey conducted in Pune has revealed that 51.5% of the residents of five areas of the city highly affected by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) have developed antibodies against the Sars-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease. A total of 1,664 people above the age of 18 were covered by the survey.
The study was conducted by the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in collaboration with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC); Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU); Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad; Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore and funded by Persistent Foundation.
According to the findings, extensive spread of the SARS Cov-2 infection was found in five areas of Pune covered by the survey . Lohiya Nagar ( Kasewadi ) in Bhavani Peth accounted for the highest seropositivity -- 65.4% . followed by Navipeth ( Parvati ) at 56.7%, Yerawada (56.6%), Rasta Peth (45.7%) and Kasba Peth (Smowarpeth) at 36.1%. Pune recorded 919 cases on Monday and its tally stood at 80,407 cases.
Pune divisional commissioner Saurabh Rao, admitting that the survey was not comprehensive, said two more sero surveys will now start and include a larger samples.
Dr Aurnab Ghose, associate professor at ISSER, said that 52.8% of men and 50.1% of women covered by the survey were found to have a seroprevalence of antibodies.
He added that blood samples were collected from 1,664 people who were asymptomatic or symptomatic, but undetected from the five areas with a collective population of 366,000. Those tested didn’t know they had been infected by the virus at some time, which means they could have passed on the infection to more people without realizing it.
Findings of similar surveys conducted in July in Delhi and Mumbai showed a seroprevalence of 23% and 36.5%, respectively.
“This study does not prove that those with antibodies are immune to the virus. For that we need a separate study which is more expensive and time-consuming. The study definitely proves that the spread of the virus is across all socio-economic strata. Serological testing for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 in a representative sample population can estimate the cumulative incidence of infection in the population,” said Ghose of ISSER.
The study will now help the administration take necessary steps to contain the spread, said divisional commissioner Rao. “It is true that we are at the peak and there is no denying that. This study will help us draw measures to reduce the spread. Pune city’s testing has been ramped up and contact tracing is completed in 2-3 days. We will now test even more and also the other two sero surveys will also help us understand the situation even better,” he said.