Over 64 lakh adults infected with COVID-19 by May, ICMR report says

Hyderabad: By the end of May over 64 lakh adults tested COVID positive stated the findings of the first national population-based serosurvey conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) .

The ICMR study was conducted between May 11 and June 4 and its serosurvey, published in Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR) on Friday, said that 64,68,388 i.e. 64 lakh adults were infected by SARS-CoV-2.

According to the official figures of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW), on May 11, the health authorities across the country were able to diagnose only 67,152 Covid positive cases. By June 4, the number of positive cases that were identified in the country increased to 2,16,919. As on Friday, a cumulative of close to 45 lakh Covid infections has been identified in the country.

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According to public health experts familiar with the ICMR study, a major reason for missing so many infections during the early part of the pandemic in May was because almost all the States were still in the process of developing their COVID-19 diagnostic capabilities. In May, only persons with symptoms were being tested while asymptomatic cases, which at present form 69 per cent of the COVID-19 infections, were not tested.

The ICMR seroprevalence survey covered 30,283 households and 28,000 individuals in 70 districts including Telangana. Such serosurveys, which are conducted by collecting blood samples from individuals, provide important estimates of the total number of infections in the country.

“Based on the overall adjusted seroprevalence of 0.73 per cent and reported number of Covid-19 cases, it was estimated that for every RT-PCR confirmed case of Covid-19, there were 82 to 130 infections in India,” the ICMR study said.

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As part of the survey, the local field level health care workers visited 30,283 households from 700 clusters in 70 districts. About one-fourth of the surveyed clusters were from urban areas.

Out of the 28,000 individuals who consented to participate in the survey, nearly half i.e. 13,552 individuals were aged between 18 years and 45 years. About 51 per cent i.e. 14,390 were women and overall 18.7 per cent of participants had an occupation with a high risk of exposure to potentially infected persons.

In its recommendations, the ICMR has advised individual States to take-up similar local serosurveys so that a better informed public health strategy for containment and mitigation of the pandemic could be taken-up.

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