Two-thirds of Indians have COVID-19 antibodies: Survey

india covid vaccine boatman
A health worker administers a vaccine for COVID-19 to a boatman on an island in the River Yamuna in New Delhi, India, Friday, July 16, 2021. Image Credit: AP

New Delhi: Around 400 million people in India are still vulnerable to COVID-19 infection as a nationwide survey found two-thirds of the country’s population aged above six have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, the government said on Tuesday, as it stressed there is no room for complacency in the fight against the pandemic.

Findings of the ICMR’s 4th national COVID-19 sero survey show there is a ray of hope, but there is no room for complacency and Covid-appropriate behaviour has to be followed, the government said.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) conducted the latest survey in June-July.

Addressing a press conference, a senior official said two-thirds or 67.6 per cent of India’s population aged above 6 years were found to have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the latest national sero survey.

A third of the population did not have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies, which means about 400 million people are still vulnerable to COVID-19 infection, the official said.

According to the government, 85 per cent of the surveyed healthcare workers had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and one-tenth of HCWs were still unvaccinated.

The survey covered 28,975 general population and 7,252 healthcare workers.

The fourth round of the survey was conducted in the 70 districts across 21 states where the previous three rounds had been carried out.

Stressing observance of COVID-19-appropriate behaviour, the government said social, religious and political congregations should be avoided and non-essential travels should be discouraged.

“Travel only if fully vaccinated,” it said.

The ICMR also suggested that it would be wise to consider reopening primary schools first as children can handle viral infection much better.

“Children can handle viral infection much better as they have lower number of ace receptors. So once the decision is taken and all the staff vaccinated, it would be wise to open primary schools first,” it said.

India recorded 30,093 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 125 days, taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 31,174,322, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

The death toll climbed to 414,482 with 374 daily fatalities, the lowest in 111 days, while the active cases have declined to 406,130, the lowest in 117 days.