Centre to start national serosurvey for assessing COVID spread, states urged to do so too

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: While announcing that a nationwide COVID-19 serosurvey is being planned this month, government authorities also asked states to carry out their own localised surveillance exercises to assess the real extent of the infection’s spread.

The Indian Council for Medical Research will start the fourth round of the project in the coming days to determine the prevalence of coronavirus antibodies in the community, said V K Paul, member, health, Niti Aayog who also heads the national COVID-19 task force.

“Preparation for national serosurvey is done. ICMR will begin work for the next sero survey this month. But if we want to protect our geographies, we won’t have to depend on national sero survey alone, we’ll have to encourage states for serosurveys too,” said Paul in a briefing by the Union health ministry on the COVID-19 status on Friday.

The serosurveillance project being planned by the health research body will be carried out in 70 districts — the same where the previous rounds had been carried out — across 21 states and will also include children above six years apart from adults.

In addition, blood samples of health care workers in district hospitals will also be collected for the survey. The 21 states where the samples would be collected for the sero survey include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh.

The overall percentage of people above 18 years with antibodies against the COVID-19 virus in India was 21.4%, according to the third national serosurvey by the ICMR to assess the true spread of SARS CoV 2 had shown.

For the survey carried out between December 17 to January 8 — nearly three months before the ferocious second wave of the pandemic hit the country — blood samples from 28,589 individuals and another group of 7,171 healthcare workers were tested.

The findings had also revealed that while seroprevalence among children aged 10-17 years was 25.3%, it was 25.7% among healthcare workers.