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68% of Indians have antibodies against Covid-19, 1/3 vulnerable | India News

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NEW DELHI: At least a third of Indians are still vulnerable to Covid-19 infection, health officials said, sharing the findings of the fourth national sero survey, which shows that 67.6% of the general population has antibodies against SARS CoV2 virus.
While the high seropositivity raises hopes that a majority of people have developed antibodies, officials cautioned that the findings should not be extrapolated to draw conclusions at the district and state levels, as many areas in the country still have high positivity rates. . Moreover, the distribution of people with antibodies is probably not equal.
“The findings clearly show that there is a glimmer of hope, but there is no room for complacency. We must maintain covid-appropriate behavior and community engagement,” Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) Director General Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday.
Interestingly, the highest seropositivity of 77.6% was found in the 45-60 age group and not in the younger 18-44 profile considered to be more mobile. Children showed the lowest exposure to Covid compared to other age groups. However, more than half of the children in the 6-17 age group had antibodies. The seropositivity was 57.2% in the 6-9 year age group, while 61.6% in the 10-17 year age group showed the presence of antibodies.
Of those surveyed, 62.2% were unvaccinated, 24.8% had taken one dose and 13% were fully vaccinated; 10.5% of the health professionals surveyed were not vaccinated.
Underlining that one in three Indians is still susceptible to Covid-19, Bhargava strongly advised against any “civil, public, religious and political congregation” and “non-essential travel”.
“The heterogeneity of the state points to the possibility of future waves of infection,” he said, asking governments to conduct district-level sero-study to assess the detailed data of infections.
The latest national survey was conducted during the last 10 days of June to the first week of July and included both children as young as six and vaccinated people.
Seroprevalence among health professionals was 85.2%. The survey was conducted on 28,975 people, including 7,252 health workers in 70 counties and 21 states of the country. These are the same neighborhoods where the first three rounds of the serotest were held.
Seropositivity was 81% in people who took one vaccine dose and 89.8% in those who received both doses.
The prevalence of SARS-CoV2 antibodies was slightly higher in women with 69.2%, compared with men with 65.8% seropositivity.
Covid exposure among those surveyed was slightly higher in urban areas at 69.6%, while 66.7% in rural areas showed antibody prevalence.
“The data shows that a third of the population had no antibodies, meaning 40 crore Indians are still vulnerable. However, national serosurvey is not a substitute for local (state/district) variations. State-led serosurveillance of the sentry will inform further action at the state level,” Bhargava said.
The last sero-survey was conducted in December-January when total seropositivity was 24.1%.
Stressing that the rise in seroprevalence is due to two factors – the second wave and also the vaccinations that have given people some seroprotection, officials said it is preferable that immunity grow through vaccination and therefore Covid-appropriate behavior should be followed until large scale vaccination is achieved.
“It is preferable to get immunity through vaccination, not through infection. Therefore, we must continue with our strategy of testing, monitoring, treatment and vaccination, as well as strict containment measures,” said NITI Aayog Health Member Dr VK Paul.

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