Majority of TS population still susceptible to COVID-19: study

Rural parts of Telangana are a long way off attaining any kind of herd immunity for COVID-19 with the third round of the sero-surveillance led by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in three Telangana districts — Jangoan, Nalgonda and Kamareddy putting the sero-positivity rate, indicative of the silent, prior exposure to SARS-CoV 2, at 24%.

The survey was conducted in December last year as part of the ICMR-National Sero-survey in 70 districts of 29 states. The first round of sero-survey was done in May last year in the same districts when the sero prevalence was found to be 0.33%, the second round in August showed 12.5% prevalence and the current exercise showed 24.1%.

Sero-prevalence at the national level went up 3.1 times between August and December last year whereas in TS, it went up by two times and latest sero-prevalence shows it is now “equal to the national average of 24%”.

The strategy has been to conduct repeat cross-sectional sero-studies in the same geographic locations so that the infection transmission trends could be documented and studied, said NIN Director R.Hemalatha on Tuesday.

“This shows the effectiveness of robust containment measures in Telangana, including quarantine, contract tracing and testing strategies,” she maintained. ICMR nodal officer Dr. Laxmaiah said the “good compliance and cooperation” showed by the public in adopting universal mask wearing and other COVID-19 protocols before the survey has ensured the virus transmission remained “slow and steady” in Telangana.

However, the rising rate also show the virus is “gradually spreading” and “three-fourths of TS rural population is still susceptible to the infection”.

Safety measures

Therefore, ICMR-NIN scientists advocate all non-pharmacological COVID-19 measures like wearing of face masks, hand sanitisation and physical distancing should be complied with.

“The herd immunity is expected when 60% of the population is exposed to the infection but since 75% of the rural population is still vulnerable and as it may take up to three months for vaccinations to reach every citizen, safety protocols should be continued even as most restrictions have been removed,” Dr Laxmaiah said.

City sero-survey

ICMR-NIN in association with the TS government, sister organisation of National Institute of Epidemiology (Chennai) and the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) is also doing serum studies on 9,500 blood samples collected from 300 people each from 30 divisions of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation to check for the sero-positivity rate in the twin cities.

“This is the first time such a major exercise is being attempted to know the COVID-19 spread and going by the rural spread, it could easily be double in the capital due to the population density and economic activity. It will give us a glimpse on how far we are away from the herd immunity here too,” said Dr. Laxmaiah.

A limited sero-surveillance study on 500 samples in the 10 containment zones was done in May last year when the infection rate was found to be 5% while the CSIR-CCMB study of sewage samples study in association with CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) in August last year showed 6.6 lakh of the population to be infected.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 10:06:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/majority-of-ts-population-still-susceptible-to-covid-19-study/article33795687.ece

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