The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday said it would be looking into the recent seroprevalence studies conducted in Delhi and Mumbai to understand whether the data is an accurate reflection of the actual rate of infection in the population.
While most seroprevalence results find less than 10 per cent of the population to be seropositive — indicating exposure to the virus — India’s studies in these two cities have pegged the rates much higher.
In Delhi, nearly 23 per cent of those surveyed between June 27 and July 10 had developed antibodies against the virus. In Mumbai, where a larger chunk of slum-dwellers was surveyed, it was found around 57 per cent of those tested in slums had developed antibodies compared with only 16 per cent of those in residential societies.
“We are aware of these two studies that have been conducted in India. In fact, we actually have a presentation from one of the groups presenting to us later this week, where we will get much more detail about the studies conducted, how they were conducted, the tests which were used,” said WHO Health Emergencies Programme Technical Lead-Covid-19, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove.
According to her, there was a need to look at two aspects. “One is the populations that were under study — if these are specific populations and if they represent a larger, bigger population. And, secondly, what the type of circulation was in these areas where the studies were done and the assays that were used,” she said during a media briefing.
“…in many of these sero-prevalence studies — and they are very well conducted — there are natural biases in who is sampled and we will just need to just check on the peer reviewed data to make sure that the numbers indicated are an accurate reflection of what we believe the population infection rate to be,” said Dr Michael J Ryan, Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
The “worrying aspect” of the spread of the infection in India is that the positivity rate continues to increase at around 12.5 per cent, demonstrating that the disease is “still circulating intensely”, according to him. “…certainly in India there’s been a 35 per cent increase in cases in the last week and over 25 per cent increase in deaths,” he said.
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