New Delhi, September 29

One in 15 individuals over the age of 10 years were estimated to have been exposed to COVID-19 causing SARS-CoV-2 by August 2020, the second sero survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research has found.

Chief of the ICMR Balram Bhargava on Tuesday said the second sero survey collected blood samples from 29,082 individuals across the same 700 villages and urban wards from 70 districts in 21 states which were covered in the first survey.

“The prevalence of COVID-19 among individuals aged 10 years plus was found to be 6.6 per cent. The prevalence was not different by age group and gender. Urban slum showed the highest risk gradient with the prevalence of 15.6 pc as against 8.2 pc in urban non-slums and 4.4 pc in rural areas. The prevalence in adults – more than 18 years – was found at 7.1 per cent which is more than 0.73 per cent prevalence found in the 18 years plus category in the last sero survey that ascertained the prevalence of the infection until May end,” Bhargava said.

The survey results mean more than 90 per cent of Indians are still vulnerable to the virus because they have not yet been exposed to it.

The sero surveys detect the presence of antibodies in the blood samples of people. Presence of antibodies reveals past exposure to the virus.

Bhargava said since a large proportion of the population is yet susceptible, prevention fatigue to be avoided using the five Ts strategy—Test, Track, Trace, Treat and Technology.

Member Health NITI Aayog VK Paul commenting on the findings of the ICMR survey said the upcoming festive and winter months would present fertile ground for the spread of the virus.

“People need to check this. We all know that respiratory viruses are winter viruses. They like winter months. So as the festive season comes, we all have to observe a Diwali, Dusehra, Eid and other festivals wearing masks and have to avoid large gatherings. Small group celebrations have to be encouraged lest we lose the edge we have gained over the past 11 days,” Paul said.

In the last 11 days starting September 19, India saw higher daily recoveries than daily cases except on two days.

The government is hoping these trends will hold and the COVID graph will start declining.

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