But ICMR survey finds there is no community transmission, and fatality rate is .08%
As many as 73 people per 10,000 population could have “exposure” to coranavirus in the country as per an immunological survey, one of the largest in the world, conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 83 non-containment zone districts across 15 States in the country.
Official claimed that the number is in the lower side but the danger of spread of the disease in a bigger way still lurks. ICMR Director General Dr Balram Bhargava warned that as per the survey a large proportion of the population is susceptible and infection can spread rapidly even as he denied that India is witnessing community transmission of the deadly virus.
The findings showed that infection in 15 containment zones districts was high with significant variations.
Explaining the data, Dr Bhargava said, “Around 0.73 per cent people in the 83 districts we studied showed prevalence of past exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus which means the lockdown in initial days kept the disease low and checked a rapid viral spread.
“The survey findings also show large proportions of population are still susceptible to the virus. However, good news is that infection fatality rate in the 83 districts was very low at 0.08 per cent.”
Based on the sero-surveillance (blood sample based study), the ICMR warned that urban slums were found to be the most at risk with 1.85 times higher Covid-19 prevalence than rural areas while urban centres reported a prevalence that was 1.09 times higher than in villages.
The virus prevalence was the lowest in rural areas. The sample for the study consisted of 26,400 people across 28,595 households in 83 districts.
A sero-survey is conducted by testing the blood serum of a group of people in a community to detect the presence of antibodies in the system which aids in finding out the prevalence of a disease. This testing allows the health authorities to study the trend of the infection and ascertain if it has reached the community transmission phase.
Pointing to low Covid prevalence, Bhargava also said there is no community transmission of the disease in India.
Bhargava said the way forward was strict adherence to non-pharmacological interventions like physical distancing, masks and face covers, respiratory and hand hygiene.
Also, he said high risk groups i.e. elderly, chronic morbidities, pregnant women and children less than 10 years old of age need to be protected.
“Infection in containment zones has been found to be high, and therefore, local lockdown measures need to continue. Efforts to limit the scale and spread of the disease will have to be continued by strong implementation of containment strategies by the States. The States cannot lower their guard and need to keep on implementing effective surveillance and containment strategies,” he said.
De VK Paul, member health, NITI Aayog, added, “Less than 1 per cent people had past infection as shown by the survey which presents the picture till April 30. The survey was done in the third week of May and normally antibodies take 15 days to appear.”
Asserting that India’s fatalities and cases were comparatively less than various countries, he said India was showing clearly low mortality rate and recoveries had now touched 49.12 per cent with more people cured than currently infected.
Bhargava also said there was ample testing capacity in the country at two lakh samples a day and it remained under-utilised. He urged States to ramp up testing.
He said the sero-surveys were conducted in two parts, and the first part comprising a fraction of the general population, who had contracted Sars-Cov-2, had been completed.
The sero-survey conducted using both anti-body/instant test and the lengthier RT-PCR test, to detect current virus carriers and also those who recovered after contracting the disease were started by ICMR in May 2020, in collaboration with state health departments, NCDC, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Friday, 12 June 2020 | PNS | New Delhi