1 out of 4 people in sample district Pulwama infected: GoI Survey

Sero-prevalence survey carried out recently by Indian Council of Medical Research has revealed the shocking extent of COVID19 spread: 1 out of every 4 people in the sample district here was infected and already recovered.

In the third week of August, Government Medical College Srinagar executed ICMR’s ‘National sero-surveillance to monitor the trend of SARS-CoV-2 infection transmission in India: Community-based surveillance’, in Pulwama district. The survey is meant to ascertain the prevalence of immunoglobulin-Gamma (Ig-G)  antibody in the population. If detected above the threshold (IgG 0.73%) shows that a person had been infected by COVID19, has already recovered and developed antibodies for the

viral infection. The survey has been carried out in 60 districts across India, Pulwama being the only district in Kashmir.

Pulwama district had been chosen in May, when the first round was carried out, based on its low-prevalence of COVID19 infections. At that time, as per the survey results, only 2 percent of the population was found to have antibodies for COVID19. However, the second round data reveals that 27.3 percent of the population in the sample district had antibodies for COVID19. “Between May and August, the infections spread from 2 to 27.3 percent,” the study results show.

“SARS CoV-2 is actively spreading among the general population,” Prof S Saleem Khan, head department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM) at GMC Srinagar said. The quantum of population which has been infected in almost 3 months as is evident from ICMR data in two rounds of the survey in Pulwama district had clearly shown that, he said. “In other words, a quarter of the population had been infected and developed an immune response to the infection and recovered,” he said.

A village cluster, Sona Samilo showed the highest IgG prevalence – 52.5 percent, which means one out of every two people in this area had recovered from COVID19. The lowest prevalence was found in the Kahigam area, where only 2 percent was IgG positive.

Prof Khan strongly recommended following SOPs as the number of positive COVID-19 cases and subsequent deaths is unchanged. ”It may take a few more months when we may expect a decline in the number of cases,” he said.

In Pulwama, like other selected sites data and blood samples of 413 participants were collected (children over 10 years and adult population) and tested to assess IgG against SARS-CoV2. 113 participants tested positive, the survey results show.

GMC Srinagar said that ICMR conducted the study through its regional centres, however the Director General ICMR & Secretary, Department of Health Research, MOHFW, Government of India Dr Balram Bhargava  had assigned Government Medical College, Srinagar the task of the study in Pulwama district on its behalf.

The medical college, in a press handout said that the team comprising faculty, resident doctors and medical interns from Department of Community Medicine (SPM) were deputed by Dr Samia Rashid, principal/ dean, GMC Srinagar for conducting the survey in ICMR assigned ten clusters in district Pulwama.