4th Covid Sero Survey In June, To Focus On Children, Rural Areas
The government will conduct a fourth national sero survey to monitor the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease, and prep for a potential third wave of infections.
The survey – to be led by the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) – will take place in June with 28,000 blood samples – 14,000 each from adults and children over the age of six – to be analysed. Apart from focusing on children, it will also focus on rural areas of the country.
The sampling of children comes amid global concerns the virus is targeting kids as it mutates; several countries, including Singapore, have already reported cases among younger citizens.
Last month authorities were alarmed after 8,000 children and teenagers tested positive for COVID-19 in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar, accounting for about 10 per cent of cases in the district.
Concerns children could be affected (at least, in greater numbers than they have so far) is a sobering and frightening thought, especially considering the number of deaths in the second wave.
AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guleria last month said there is no indication children will, in fact, be severely, or more, affected – a conclusion shared by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics. But the Supreme Court on Monday asked the government if any study had been conducted on these aspects.
Concerns over children being affected has also focused talk on vaccinating them. The government has yet to allow kids to be vaccinated; it has cited lack of WHO policy on this subject.
None of the vaccines cleared by the national drug regulator – Covishield, Covaxin or Sputnik V – have been cleared for use on children. Covaxin has, however, begun trials on the 2-18 age group.
The third national sero survey, conducted between December 7 last year and January 8, indicated that over 21 per cent of the population (aged 10 and above) had been exposed to COVID-19.
Worryingly, it also indicated a massive jump in exposure – the second survey indicated that only seven per cent of the population (aged 10 and above) had been affected by the virus.
The first survey, conducted between May 11 and June 4 last year, indicated that 0.73 per cent of all adults in India had been exposed to the virus.
India has been hit by a devastating second wave of Covid cases, with daily new cases crossing the four lakh-mark last month and the overall death count crossing three lakh. The trend has declined since, with fewer than 1.3 lakh reported Tuesday morning from the past 24 hours.
However, experts have cautioned against letting our guard down, particularly as states began removing restrictions on movement in an effort to re-start, again, economic and commercial activities.