Serosurveys can’t be deduced to estimate undercounting of Covid-19 cases: Centre
- NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul said that serosurveys are conducted with the specific purpose of enunciating the number of people with previous experience of Covid-19.
Serosurvey reports cannot be deduced to estimate mortality rates of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) or the undercounting of people infected with the virus as they are not meant to cover granularity at state level, NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul said on Tuesday. “This isn't the way interpretation of data should be done or convey misleading information,” he added.
The statements came amid claims by opposition leaders regarding undercounting of coronavirus cases by the Centre.
During the Covid-19 press briefing earlier in the day, Dr Paul, on being asked about the fourth round of Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) national serosurvey, said that it is carried out with the “specific purpose of enunciating how many people have previous experience of Covid-19.”
Dr Paul further explained that all the serosurveys that have been done till now have been done to portray the “national picture of Covid-19.” “Having said that, remember if the antibody is found in any person, it shows that the person has been exposed to Covid-19,” the NITI Aayog member said, adding that mere exposure doesn’t mean it was a case of a “serious disease” or indicates a “life-threatening situation.”
Moreover, if in such scenarios, the person in question hasn't got the Covid-19 test done, it is more likely that the case may have been asymptomatic or totally known to the individual, Dr Paul said.
“In most cases, above 80%, there are no symptoms; you are totally unaware. This situation cannot be equated with a situation where there is a significant chance of mortality,” he added.
The government official further pointed out that serosurveys involve a large number of people who are asymptomatic, and extrapolating those is “irrational and biased.”
He said that coronavirus vaccination could also be the reason why antibodies are found in an individual. “At least some part of it has come from the vaccine, and the vaccine is protective. Making a mathematical calculation and drawing a picture of your own is not scientifically valid. This is not a way of data interpretation,” Dr Paul said during the press briefing.
The recently released results of the fourth round of national serosurvey, which was conducted across 70 districts in June to July, revealed about 40 crore Indians are still vulnerable to coronavirus as they didn’t have antibodies.
The latest serosurvey also included children aged between six and 17, and it showed that two-third of the general population – above six-years-old, had developed Covid-19 antibodies.
ICMR director-general, Dr Balram Bhargava, said that the total seroprevalence stood at 67.6%, of which, those between 45 and 60 accounted for the highest at 77.6%. Citizens between 18-44 had 66.7% seroprevalence, while those in the six to nine-year age group and 10-17 years were found to have 57.2% and 61.6% seroprevalence, respectively.
Meanwhile, at the same press briefing, joint secretary of Union ministry of health and family welfare, Lav Agarwal said that as many as 18 districts in India are showing an upward trend in daily Covid-19 cases. A total of 10 districts are in Kerala, while three are in Maharashtra – two of the most-affected states in India.
Besides, these two states account for 60% of the total active case count in the country, with Kerala’s tally currently at 1,65,834 and Maharashtra’s at 78,700, he further told the media persons.
(With inputs from ANI)