Two-third of Indians have COVID-19 antibodies: ICMR serosurvey
Around 40 crore Indians are still vulnerable to COVID-19 infections, according to India's fourth national serological survey. The survey found that 67.6% of Indians above the age of six have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. Notably, this is a steep increase from the results of the third serosurvey, conducted in December-January, which found antibodies in 21% of the population above age 10.
The fourth serosurvey was conducted by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) across 70 districts in 21 states in June-July. As per the ICMR, the survey included 36,227 people, out of which, 7,252 are healthcare workers. The ICMR found 85% of the surveyed healthcare workers (HCWs) had antibodies against coronavirus, while one-tenth of HCWs were still unvaccinated.
While announcing the results of the serosurvey, the government also warned people against the laxity in following COVID-19 appropriate behavior as about one-third of Indians do not have COVID-19 antibodies. ICMR chief Dr. Balram Bhargava said, "The implications of the fourth serosurvey clearly show there is a ray of hope, but there is no room for complacency. We must maintain COVID-appropriate behavior."
The survey also found that over 50% of children between the age of six to 17 have antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The survey found 57.2% seroprevalence in the age group of six-nine years. In the age group of 10-17 years, seroprevalence was 61.6%. Similarly in the age group of 18-44 years and 45-60 years, it was 66.7% and 77.6%, respectively.
Stating that there is no difference in seroprevalence in males and females, the ICMR said COVID-19 antibodies were found in 62.3% of unvaccinated people. Among those who had one dose of the vaccine, seroprevalence was 81%. However, among those who had both doses of vaccine, antibodies were detected in 89.8% of people. The ICMR stressed the need to accelerate vaccination among vulnerable groups.
While the government and health experts have warned against an "imminent" third wave of infections, people's laxity in preventive behavior has become a cause of concern. On Monday, the ICMR urged people to avoid social, religious, political gatherings as well as unnecessary travel. Recently, PM Narendra Modi also asked people to follow COVID-19 protocols to stop the spread of the virus.