In Telangana, 60 per cent of population is seropositive for SARS-CoV-2: ICMR survey

Published : July 24, 2021 16:58 IST

Medical staff seen collecting blood samples for Sero Survey. Photo: R. V. Moorthy / The Hindu

The fourth and latest round of a seroprevalence survey conducted by the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (ICMR-NIN) indicates that 60.1 per cent of the population in Telangana have been found seropositive or developed antibodies specific to SARS-CoV-2.

The seroprevalence survey, which was carried out in June by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) as part of its national serosurvey, was conducted in the three Telangana districts of Jangaon, Nalgonda and Kamareddy in collaboration with the Health Department. The survey covered all age groups, including children between the ages of six and nine.

According to the ICMR-NIN survey, around 55 per cent of children aged between six and nine were found to be seropositive, while 61 per cent of adolescents had developed SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. Health workers had a better seropositivity rate at 82.4 per cent. The survey attributed the high seropositivity rate among health workers to the early vaccination of this group of individuals.

The ICMR-NIN survey gave a strong fillip to the COVID-19 vaccination programme. While the seropositivity rate among those who had received one dose of the vaccine was 78.5 per cent, it was 94 per cent among those who had received both doses. The survey also found that among those who were not vaccinated, the seropositivity rate was low at 51.3 per cent. The hope is that this finding will help remove vaccine hesitancy among people.

Expressing caution, Dr R. Hemalatha, the Director of ICMR-NIN, stressed that though well over half the State’s population had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, the fact that 40 per cent was still susceptible indicated that all non-pharmacological COVID-19 measures such as wearing masks, hand sanitisation, and physical distancing should be continued.

As part of their COVID-19 management strategy, the ICMR has repeated cross-sectional serosurveys in the same geographic locations so that infection transmission trends can be gauged, documented and studied. While the first round of the serosurvey was conducted in May 2020, the second and third rounds were conducted in August and December 2020 respectively. The previous serosurveys in Telangana had thrown up seroprevalence rates of 0.33, 12.5 and 24.1 per cent respectively.

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