New Delhi (CNN) – Two-thirds of India’s population may have antibodies to COVID-19, according to a new serological estimate released on Tuesday, which provides even more evidence that the virus may have spread more widely than official figures suggest.
About 67.6% of screened Indians over the age of 6 showed antibodies, according to a national study conducted by the government-run Medical Research Council of India (ICMR) between June and July. The study covered 70 districts in 21 states, with 28,975 participants.
Our immune system produces antibodies that respond to the vaccine or infection. The vast majority of survey participants, 62%, were not vaccinated; The quarterbacks got their first size.
This study marks a dramatic leap forward from a few months ago: at the beginning of the year, less than a quarter of participants showed antibodies, According to the latest National Serological Survey.
But in the months between the two elections, India suffered a catastrophe The second massive wave, Which drowned the medical system, leaving people dying outside hospitals, waiting for oxygen or an available bed. The wave lasted from April to June, affecting millions and killing tens of thousands.
ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said the results of the study, along with the slow vaccine, raise concerns about the possibility of a third wave of infections.
“More than half of children (ages 6 to 17) had seropositive and seroprevalence similar in rural and urban areas,” he said, but “states, districts and areas without antibodies are at risk for infection waves.” About 400 million people will be affected if the third wave comes.
Active immunity, i.e. protection against disease, often antibodies, proteins in the blood, helps to fight against infections produced by the immune system, obtained through previous infection or vaccination.
Vaccines have resurfaced in the last two months as the second wave began to fall, but the country has not yet come anywhere near its targets. So far, only 6.35% of India’s 1.38 billion people have been vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
The country is still reeling from the second wave. Despite the gradual decline in the number of new infections and active cases daily, government officials are now repeatedly warning the public against the alarm.
“In mountain cities and markets, I would like to emphasize today that it is of great concern that large numbers of people do not wear masks and do not follow ethics,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last week, after their return. Holiday destination cities. “This is not right”.
Fewer cases and deaths
Health workers and scientists have long warned that the number of cases and deaths could be higher Will be higher than reported, Which points to a discrepancy between official statistics and serological surveys.
So far, India has recorded about 31.2 million confirmed cases, less than 3% of its total population and much lower than the proportion of respondents showing antibodies, according to Johns Hopkins University.
There are many reasons behind the reporting gap, including poor infrastructure, human error and limited evidence.
Although test rates have increased since the beginning of the year, different cities and states have different case reporting structures, and poor residents cannot allocate time from work to be tested or to travel to a facility.
Low assessment is in practice in most rural areas of the country, where there are often logistical issues such as lack of information in the National Medical Database.
A study released Tuesday by the US-based Global Development Center found that the high number of deaths reported during epidemics in India could be as much as ten times the official death toll, underscoring how serious the under-reported problem is.
The document states that between January 2020 and June 2021, India recorded 3.4 to 4.9 million more deaths. The Indian Ministry of Health estimates that about 400,000 people have died.
When asked about the unregistered deaths in Parliament on Tuesday, India’s newly appointed health minister, Mansuk Madhaviya, said “there is no reason for the government to cover up the deaths.”
“Many have said that the Government of India is covering up the death toll. The Government of India compiles and publishes statistics sent to us by the State Governments,” he said.
The study was conducted on the basis of three different estimates of excess deaths using seroprevalence studies from India, excess death data from the Indian Civil Registry and death surveys by the Center for Monitoring the Indian Economy.
Each of these estimates has its limits, and the study acknowledges that the number of overdose deaths is not equal to the specific deaths from the cove.
But he concluded that the first wave of the epidemic was “far more dangerous than previously believed” and that his estimates showed more deaths during the first wave than during the second.
“Regardless of the evidence and assessment, the actual deaths during Govt epidemics may have been higher than the official number,” the study noted. “The actual deaths could be in the millions, not the hundreds of thousands, so this is India’s worst human tragedy since partition and independence.”