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Last Updated : Oct 04, 2020 12:27 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

ICMR's sero-survey suggests India may have had 64 lakh COVID-19 infections by May itself

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)'s survey found that sero-positivity was the highest in the age group of 18-45 years (43.3 percent), followed by those between 46-60 years (39.5 percent).

Citing results of its serological survey, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on September 11 said 64 lakh Indians had been already infected by COVID-19 by May. These cases were undiagnosed and the patients had developed antibodies against the novel coronavirus.

The sero-survey further revealed that for every confirmed COVID-19 case in May, there were 82-130 infections that went undetected.


The sero-survey had been conducted between May 11 and June 4. The exercise had covered 28,000 individuals whose blood samples were tested for IgG antibodies using COVID Kavach ELISA kit. Sero prevalence at the national level in May was 0.73 percent of the Indian population.

COVID-19 Vaccine

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Sero-positivity was the highest in the age group of 18-45 years (43.3 percent), followed by those between 46-60 years (39.5 percent) and was the lowest among those aged above 60 (17.2 percent).

"The findings of our survey indicated that the overall sero-prevalence in India was low, with less than one percent of the adult population exposed to SARS-CoV-2 by mid-May 2020. The low prevalence observed in most districts indicates that India is in early phase of the epidemic and the majority of the Indian population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection," news agency PTI cited the reported as saying.

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The findings were revealed a day after India reported a record single-day spike of 95,735 COVID-19 cases. This took the country’s overall tally to 44.6 lakh cases, which includes over 75,000 fatalities, 34.7 lakh recoveries.

According to ICMR, 11.2 lakh samples were tested for COVID-19 on September 9. Over 5.2 crore samples have been tested in the country so far.

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First Published on Sep 11, 2020 07:49 am