Over 84 percent people in Kashmir exposed to Covid-19: Study

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A pan-Kashmir study has found an overall 84.4% seroprevalence of IgG antibody against COVID-19. This means that more than 2/3rd population had been exposed to the virus.

The pan-Kashmir cross-sectional sero-study was conducted among general population and various subsets of population which include police personnel, healthcare workers, pregnant women by government medical college Srinagar in collaboration with Community Medicine departments of SKIMS, SKIMS Medical College Srinagar, Government Medical College Anantnag and Government Medical College Baramullah with full support and cooperation from directorate of health sciences Kashmir and supported by National Health Mission.

The Department of Community Medicine GMC Srinagar was the nodal center while all testing procedures were conducted by department of Biochemistry, GMC Srinagar. The study has been approved by institutional ethics committee of GMC Srinagar.

In the general population of seven years and above, the study was conducted in all 10 districts of Kashmir. Data was collected in the month of July 2021 with each medical college mentoring two districts. Within each district, 10 clusters were randomly selected and within each cluster 40 samples were collected from individuals more than 7 years of age after obtaining proper informed consent for the study, officials told GNS.

The household and individual data was collected on customised Epicollect5 software.
All the blood samples were sent to BSL-2 lab at Biochemistry Department of GMC Srinagar for analysis on high end Abbott Architect i1000 & i2000 automatic analysers, they said. Total samples processed and reported include 3586 samples from general population with mean age of 35.33 ±18 years. Further, 2077 samples have been processed and reported from among the police personals, HCW and antenatal women.

Our study population among general population in 10 districts of Kashmir shows 84.3% of study population was positive for IgG-II (or the anti spike protein) antibody which are produced after infection with SARS CoV -2 (Covid-19) as well as after vaccination.
The IgM antibody which is usually produced by recent infection with SARS Cov-2 (can rarely also be produced in recent vaccination), they said. This antibody was positive in about 20.75 % of participants.

District wise IgG II (Anti Spike antibodies) status:
Anantnag – 87.23%;
Bandipora – 84.42%
Baramulla -84.91%
Budgam – 83.68%
Ganderbal – 82.8%
Kulgam – 82.95%
Kupwara – 81.05%
Pulwama – 78.24%
Shopian – 86.89%
Srinagar – 89.77%
Total – 84.36%
The figures show that Srinagar and Anantnag have the highest seroprevalance in terms of IgG II (antispike protein IgG antibody)
During the time of study in July 2021, a total of 20.3% participants had received 2 doses of vaccination and majority (79.25) had received none. However, since then the vaccination has scaled up and the sero positivity due to vaccination would have gone up also.
“We encourage that people shall follow COVID appropriate behaviour by using face masks, maintain social distancing, hand hygiene and more importantly shall go for full Vaccination against COVID which has proved to be safe and effective against COVID,” said Dr. S. Muhammad Salim Khan, Professor and HOD Community Medicine Government College Srinagar and principal investigator of the study.

While analysing the data from various subsets, he said, “we would definitely request every eligible person to go for Vaccination against COVID as over these months we have seen a significant drop in number of cases who have been admitted in hospitals with moderate to severe diseases.” Further, he said, scaling up vaccination would reduce chances of any possible severe third wave. (GNS)

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