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Wednesday, September 23, 2020

In sero survey 3.0, Delhi govt to collect 17,000 samples

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal congratulates Delhiites for showing America the way after President Trump talks of plasma therapy as Covid-19 cure

Written by Astha Saxena | New Delhi | Updated: August 25, 2020 1:37:07 pm
Sero finding: Not all who recovered from Covid had antibodiesAmong those surveyed, 208 people said they were previously tested positive through the RT-PCR method.(Express file photo by Abhinav Saha)

The state health department is gearing up for the third serological survey, scheduled between September 1 and 5, as part of the Delhi government’s strategy to assess the spread of Covid in the city. According to sources, the sample size of the survey is going to be higher than the one held in the second round during August, with around 17,000 people expected to be surveyed this time.

“The sample size is being calculated following a prescribed formula. In the second survey, over 15,000 people were tested, while over 21,000 people were evaluated in the first survey conducted by the National Centre for Disease Control. Everything apart from this will remain the same; the districts will follow protocol laid down by the state government earlier. Training of officers will start from Tuesday,” said a senior official from the state health department.

The second sero survey showed that about 29% of those surveyed had the presence of novel coronavirus-specific antibodies, suggesting they had been exposed to the virus. The results were announced by Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain last week.

The survey was conducted in all 11 districts. The highest prevalence of the disease was found in the Southeast district, where 32.2% of participants had antibodies. This was also the district that showed the biggest jump from last time, when it had recorded 22.2% prevalence. More women (32.2%) were found to have antibodies than men (28.73%).

During the previous survey, eight districts were found to have more than 20% prevalence of Covid, with Central, Northeast, North and Shahdara with almost 27% prevalence. However, in the August survey, 10 out of 11 districts had more than 20% prevalence.

According to experts, the results of these surveys should be thoroughly examined to understand various aspects of the disease. Dr Lalit Kant, former head, epidemiology, and communicable diseases division, ICMR, said “Compared to the previous survey, the prevalence rate has increased by 5-6 percentage points. Now about a third of Delhi’s population appears to have antibodies. Extrapolating this prevalence to Delhi’s population of about 2 crore, more or less 60 lakh would have been exposed to the virus. If we assume that 15-20% of these were severe cases and needed hospital care, we come to a figure of 9-12 lakh. Our health system has so far detected over 1.6 lakh positive individuals. Somewhere between 7-10 lakh cases more should have been picked up. This is a very simplistic way of looking at a very complex issue, but it still makes a point — perhaps we need to test many times more than what we are doing to detect, contain and interrupt transmission. The other issue worth pondering is where are those undetected and untreated positive persons.”

‘What Delhi did yesterday, America does today’

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Meanwhile, after US President Donald Trump announced that the Food and Drug Administration had authorised convalescent plasma therapy for emergency use, the Delhi government said the US was learning from Delhi.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “They used to say, back in the day – what America does today, India would do tomorrow. Delhi has changed it. Now – what Delhi did yesterday, America does today. Congratulations Delhiites for achieving this for our country.”

The government, in a statement said, Delhi was the first in the country to apply for permission from the Centre to start plasma therapy trials in its hospitals in April. It later opened plasma banks as well, for those who recovered from Covid to donate antibodies that could be administered to patients. Till August 11, 921 recovered patients donated plasma at the ILBS plasma bank. This included healthcare workers and police officials.

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