The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday said that India's latest Covid sero survey shows that two-third of the general population above the age of 6 years had SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Speaking on the recently conducted fourth sero survey, ICMR DG Dr. Balram Bhargava said, "We studied 7,252 healthcare workers and 10 per cent had not taken the vaccine, the overall seroprevalence in them was 85.2 per cent. In conclusion, 2/3rd of general population i.e above the age of 6 years had SARS-CoV-2 infection."
However, ICMR DG Dr. Balram Bhargava emphasized it is more important to note that a third of the population did not have antibodies i.e 40 crore of the population of the country is still vulnerable.
"Implications of 4th sero survey clearly show that there is a ray of hope but there is no room for complacency. We must maintain COVID appropriate behaviour and community engagement. National level serosurvey is not a substitute of state/district level serosurvey," Bhargava added.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Punjab government said it will start a sero survey, especially focused on children in the age group of 6 to 17 ahead of a possible third Covid wave. The survey will start this month.
Sero surveys or sero prevalence studies are based on analysis of antibodies collected through blood samples.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said the outcome of the sentinel sero-surveillance survey, aimed to assess the prevalence of the infection among under 18, will be utilised to determine further localised restrictions as the state prepares for the third wave, according to a government statement.
GIS-based surveillance and prevention tools will be used with an auto-trigger mechanism for localised restrictions, he said.
Dr KK Talwar, head of Punjab's expert committee on COVID-19, said in the first and second waves, 10 per cent of those infected were under 18 and while there was no concrete data to support such a projection, the state was preparing to handle more cases of children in the third wave.
The chief minister also ordered the establishment of a paediatric unit in each district and one centre of excellence in paediatrics for the state.
While announcing Rs 331 crore for a possible third wave, in addition to the money already allotted for emergency Covid response, the CM said the government will establish liquid medical oxygen storage tanks in every district to ensure round the clock availability of the life-saving gas.
Medical gas pipeline systems will also be set up at each district and sub-division level, he said. He also announced the establishment of 17 additional RT-PCR labs.
ICU beds in government hospitals shall also be increased to 142, and a hub and spoke model for telemedicine and teleconsultation will also be established, said Amarinder Singh.