Bang in the middle of the COVID pandemic’s second wave, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National institute of Nutrition (NIN) is planning to conduct a first ever Statewide sero-surveillance study of the spread of SARS-COV-2 in Telangana, other than the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), in association with the TS Medical and Health Department soon.
"We have earlier done similar sero-surveillance studies in three districts as part of the national-level estimation of the virus spread and later for the GHMC, so this effort will be to check for transmission all over Telangana by random sampling in each of the 32 districts," said ICMR-NIN Head of Public Health, Senior Scientist & Epidemiologist Dr. A. Laxmaiah on Sunday.
The plan presented to the government for approval is to take up to 500 random blood samples from the different strata of the population across the State. The entire exercise along with sample collection of up to 16,000 samples - 500 from each district and subsequent analysis could be completed in 45 days from start to finish.
"What it will help the government and the scientific community is have authentic information about the spread in the last couple of months during this surge and the remaining susceptible population. Policy makers would get an idea on how to prepare for any possible future waves by strengthening infrastructure and taking preventive measures through this data," he explained.
Dr. Laxmaiah, as nodal officer, was part of a nationwide sero-surveillance when just three Telangana districts were covered - Jangaon, Nalgonda and Kamareddy with 1,300 samples collected when the exposure to the SARS-COV2 was found to be 24.1% in the third round conducted in December equal to the nation's average. It was up from 0.33% conducted in May in the first round and 12.5% when it was conducted in August last year in the second round. About 70 districts in 29 States were covered then.
"We had established then that the virus was gradually spreading and three-fourths of the rural population was still susceptible to the infection. With this latest round, we will know to what extent and how many are vulnerable still," he added.