‘Pulwama, Budgam leads at 43% sero-prevalenc’
The first-ever seroprevalence study in Kashmir division for SARS COV-2 specific IgG antibodies conducted across all ten districts shows IgG antibodies among 38.8% sampled population, which means that nearly 39% of the population have already developed antibodies for COVID.
The study organised by Government Medical College Srinagar and JK National Health Mission in collaboration with SKIMS, SKIMS Medical College, Government Medical College Anantnag, Government Medical College Baramullah and Directorate of Health Services Kashmir covered all ten districts of Kashmir division.
The participants’ data was collected on a customized Epicollect5 mobile platform. A total of 6,230 blood samples comprising population sample of 400 persons across 10 clusters in each of nine districts and 2418 samples in Srinagar district were tested for the presence of IgG antibodies specific to SARS COV-2 infection in high tech Abbott Laboratories’ Architect analyser by Department of Biochemistry GMC Srinagar.
The preliminary data presented by Department of Community Medicine, Government Medical College Srinagar, the coordinating centre for the study, shows that sero prevalence was more in central and north Kashmir than south districts with Pulwama 43.1%, Budgam 43.0%, Kupwara 42.3%, Srinagar 40.7%, Bandipora 39.8%, Ganderbal 39.0%, Anantnag 35.2%, Baramullah 34.6%, Shopian 31.9% and Kulgam 28.5%.
The age-wise analysis shows more sero prevalence among the elderly population while gender-wise it’s more among females (40.2%) as against males (37.3%). Over half of the sampled population (52.1%) who had Influenza-like illness (ILI) showed IgG antibodies and surprisingly among those who didn’t show any symptoms, 37.9% showed IgG antibodies.
Half of the sampled population who had a history of contact with a COVID case showed IgG antibodies while among those who had no history of contact, 40% showed IgG antibodies.
Among those who had tested positive for COVID test, only 79.5% showed antibodies. Even among 912 persons who have tested negative on COVID tests, 345 (37.8%) expressed COVID specific IgG antibodies.
“The study indicates that there has been the widespread transmission of SARS CoV-2 infection in the general population and there are apprehensions that the majority of the unaffected population may also contract the COVID infection if SOPs aren’t followed. There seems complacency among the general population and very few people are now using face masks. The gatherings in public places also shows people are not adhering to social distancing norms,” said Dr S Muhammad Salim Khan, head of the department, Community Medicine, Government Medical College Srinagar.
The five medical colleges and Institutions were responsible for conducting training and monitoring of two districts each while the concerned deputy commissioners and chief medical officers facilitated the execution of the study in their respective districts. The study was funded by JK National Health Mission, the main collaborator of the study and was approved by the Institutional ethical committee of GMC Srinagar.