The latest survey by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), estimating the prevalence of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the population, was released earlier this week. The survey, conducted in June-July 2021, reported a prevalence of 67.6 per cent in the general population aged over 6 years.
The finding shows 61.2% sero positive among the general population while the health care providers showed a whopping 81.1% sero positive response to COVID infection in Pulwama district.
This figure reveals a big jump from prevalence estimates of earlier surveys.
The first survey, in May-June 2020, reported only 0.7 per cent. The estimate went up to 7.1 per cent in August-September 2020. Between December 2020 and January 2021, as the first wave reached its nadir, the prevalence was noted to be 24.1 per cent. The 280 per cent increase, since this last survey, is principally due to the second wave that surged skywards during March-May 2021, though vaccination too commenced from mid-January to confer immunity on some. Children aged 6-9 years had 57.2 per cent seropositivity, while 61.6 per cent in the 10-17 year age group tested positive.
While antibody surveys are useful to gauge the extent of virus spread across the population, experts cautioned that these numbers cannot be taken to fit a particular city or village. While it’s true that antibodies mean protection, their longevity, especially among those who were infected, is likely to wane in the next few months.
The latest ICMR survey covered 28,975 individuals randomly selected from the population and separately examined 7,252 healthcare workers. The sampling frame for the population survey covered 70 districts, across 21 states. While they may be considered fairly representative of the 741 districts of India, some regional variations may be missed.
In overall context, the centre has rightly underlined the need for the people as well as local governments to remain careful and avoid any sort of gathering, whether social, religious or political. The government as well as people shall not become complacent. Same mistake again can prove detrimental.
The Lieutenant Governor has set the target for the Health Department to vaccinate 15 lakh additional population in coming weeks in Jammu and Kashmir. The target should be met and measures taken in advance to meet it.
In anticipation of the 3rd Wave, the Lieutenant Governor has rightly underlined the need to remain prepared to deal with any future health challenges. By vaccinating the targeted population at the earliest, the government will be able to save precious lives from any such threat.