Karnataka

Third sero-survey finds 70% children aged 6-14 years in State exposed to SARS-CoV-2

While 2,35,639 children were infected in the COVID-19 second wave, less than half of this number was reported in the third wave at 1,05,799. The first wave saw 91,191 kids getting infected, the least among the three waves. 

While 2,35,639 children were infected in the COVID-19 second wave, less than half of this number was reported in the third wave at 1,05,799. The first wave saw 91,191 kids getting infected, the least among the three waves.  | Photo Credit: File Photo

Preliminary findings of the State’s third sero-survey involving 5,072 unvaccinated children aged 6-14 years found that 70% of the children have been exposed to the virus so far. The survey found that over 3,550 of the surveyed children had developed IgG antibodies that remain in the blood after an infection has passed

The survey began on June 6 to understand the active COVID-19 infection, the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies, waning of antibodies following natural infection, the incidence of re-infection and the prevalent strain of SARS-CoV-2 in children.

Sources in the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) told The Hindu that the draft of the findings of the third sero-survey is ready and the process of finalising the report is under way. The draft was presented in the 177th meeting of the TAC held on July 28.

The survey covered children in both urban and rural areas in all districts, including the BBMP. Nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs along with 2ml of venous blood was collected from all willing participants by ICTC counsellors and lab technicians under the supervision of paediatricians. Samples of children who had symptoms but tested negative for COVID-19 were tested for other influenza diseases.

With vaccination being taken up only for those aged above 12 years, the TAC had recommended the paediatric sero-survey. “It was essential to find out how many were infected in the third wave and if they are sustaining the antibodies and further plan vaccination strategies,” the TAC had said.

Asymptomatic

Doctors said 70% of the surveyed children, who were found to have developed IgG antibodies for COVID-19 may have had mild symptoms of COVID-19 or would have been asymptomatic.

“Although antibodies usually last for six months, in some people they can last even up to nine months. The survey was done in June and the presence of antibodies in the children shows that they would have been infected in the third wave,” said C.N. Manjunath, member of the State’s Clinical Experts Committee.

“Most of the people infected during the third wave had mild symptoms or were asymptomatic. Although the test positivity rate (TPR) was high, case fatality rate (CFR) was very low. The pattern has been similar in the paediatric population. It is not a surprise that 70% have shown presence of antibodies,” he said.

Vaccination

Stating that there is now a need for vaccination to be rolled out for the younger children too, Dr. Manjunath said: “There is robust evidence available to prove that vaccination has significantly reduced hospitalisation and deaths. Those due for vaccinations should get jabbed. Continuing face masking is essential even now.”

Chikkanarasa Reddy, professor of Paediatrics at Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute, said most of the children had asymptomatic infections and hospitalisations were low. “This is a great relief as even if the children are re-infected, it should be mild in nature. However, we will have to wait and see if these antibodies will be effective against new emerging variants or sub-lineages of Omicron. It is now essential to roll out vaccination for children below 12 too,” the doctor said.

Highest in second wave

While several experts had warned that the third wave could see children infected the most, as COVID vaccination had not yet been rolled out for them then, data from the State Health Department in April this year showed that the second wave saw the highest number of children infected (0-18 age group.)

While 2,35,639 children were infected in the second wave, less than half of this number was reported in the third wave at 1,05,799. The first wave saw 91,191 kids getting infected, the least among the three waves.


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Printable version | Aug 2, 2022 9:48:30 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/third-sero-survey-finds-70-children-aged-6-14-years-in-state-exposed-to-sars-cov-2/article65717768.ece