Herd Immunity? Here’s What 67.6 Per Cent Sero-prevalence Mean for India

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The Central government on Tuesday said around 40 crore people are still vulnerable to Covid-19 infection as a nationwide survey found two-thirds or 67.6 per cent of India’s population aged above six to have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies.

Announcing the findings of the fourth national Covid sero survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in June-July, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava warned that there is no room for complacency in the fight against the pandemic.

4th Sero Survey

The Union Health Ministry briefing on coronavirus announced findings of the fourth survey conducted in the 70 districts across 21 states where the previous three rounds had been carried out. The government said two-thirds or 67.6 per cent of the population aged above six years were found to have SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. However, they also noted that a third of the population did not have antibodies, indicating that about 40 crore people are still vulnerable to Covid-19 infection.

The survey was covered 28,975 general population and 7,252 healthcare workers. It also showed 85 per cent of the surveyed healthcare workers had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 and one-tenth of health care workers (HCWs) were still unvaccinated.

Herd Immunity?

The term herd immunity refers to a situation when a community, population, gain immunity due to vaccination or past infection at a mass-level against a particular infectious disease. However, amid emerging mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, experts have warned that herd immunity doesn’t make anyone immune to the infection, and outbreaks can still happen.

It is unclear what is the herd immunity threshold for the coronavirus. However, many experts say it’s 70 per cent or higher.

Niti Aayog Member (health) Dr VK Paul last week said India has yet to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 and possibilities of new outbreaks cannot be ruled out. “We have yet not reached herd immunity against Covid-19. We can see new outbreaks of the viral infection but we need to stop it now. This is possible if we follow Covid-appropriate behaviour to stay in the safe zone,” he said.

He also noted that the next 125 days were critical for India’s fight against the pandemic. Stressing that the population is still vulnerable, Paul had said herd immunity was not achieved through natural infections.

“We are making continuous progress in vaccination. At least 50 per cent of our vulnerable population is vaccinated. So we are still vulnerable. But the situation as of now is under control and we will have to maintain this situation,” Paul was quoted as saying.

In a warning against the third wave of Covid-19, the government has said, “Leaving North and South American regions of WHO, all other WHO regions are moving from good to bad and bad to worse. The world is moving towards a third wave and this is a fact.”

Avoid Gatherings, Travel

Stressing observance of Covid-19-appropriate behaviour, the government said social, religious and political congregations should be avoided and non-essential travels should be discouraged. “Travel only if fully vaccinated,” it said.

India recorded 30,093 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 125 days, taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 3,11,74,322. The death toll climbed to 4,14,482 with 374 daily fatalities, the lowest in 111 days, while the active cases have declined to 4,06,130, the lowest in 117 days.

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