First sero-survey of entire Kashmir begins

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Kashmir will have its first sero-prevalence study, the results of which will reveal the extent of immunity against COVID19 in the community. It will also help develop future strategy – lifting of restrictions on activities due to the pandemic.

Government Medical College Srinagar has started the process of sero-prevalence study across ten districts of Kashmir.

While giving details, Prof S Saleem Khan, head department of preventive and community medicine, which plays the pivotal role in the activity, said: A total of 6000 samples will be collected and tested for antibodies of COVID19. Srinagar district, which is the worst affected district due to the pandemic in Kashmir, will have 2600 people getting tested for antibodies while 400 samples each will be collected from other districts.”

He said that the training of human resources to be involved in the activity has already started and the National Health Mission will fund the activity.

The sero-survey results, Prof Khan said, will help in figuring out district-wise estimates of people who have been exposed or infected with COVID19 and have developed immunity against it. “Such estimates are crucial in developing containment strategies as well as help in devising plans for educational, economic and other activities,” he said.

Prof Khan said that the medical college will get support from SKIMS Soura, SKIMS Medical College Hospital Bemina, GMC Anantnag and GMC Baramulla for execution. “We will be mentoring and monitoring the survey while they will provide us the requisite support,” he said. He said the samples will be analysed by the biochemistry laboratory of GMC Srinagar.

He said the testing kits are manufactured by Abott and were the most reliable ones available currently. “We will have accurate estimates of sero-prevalence in Kashmir with this survey,” he said.

In a recent sero-survey carried out by Indian Council of Medical Research in Pulwama, it was found that 27.3 percent of the sample population had developed antibodies against COVID19. The samples for this survey had been collected in the last week of August. At that time, the number of cases reported from Pulwama were less than 4000.

In May, a similar survey had revealed that only 2 percent of those tested had antibodies, pointing towards a widespread circulation of virus in the community.

In Jammu division, results of a sero-survey released recently revealed over 7 percent of the tested population had antibodies for COVID19.