Antibody tests on a random sample of people in Delhi have thrown up a shocking finding: That nearly one out of four residents has been exposed to coronavirus infection. And this, just six months into the coronavirus epidemic.
Interestingly, this is a government of India survey conducted by the National Centre for Disease Control. Not only did 23.48% of the 21,387 people, whose blood samples were tested, had Covid-19 antibodies, the study suggests that the infection in the city has a much larger footprint than the number of confirmed cases indicates.
Delhi has thus far a tally of 123,747 cases, equivalent to less than 1% of its population of 19.8 million. At 23.44%, the number of infections would be 4.65 million in a city of that size. (Ref: BBC). A government press release says the difference shows that "a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic".
The study further says the figure of 23.48% may be on the lower side, because Delhi has several pockets of dense population. But it adds that "a significant proportion of the population is still vulnerable" and all safety measures must be strictly followed.
Experts say the study, the first of its kind in India, is crucial because it will help authorities understand the spread of the virus better.
The survey was conducted in 11 districts of Delhi and blood samples were collected from individuals after taking their written consent. The antibodies were tested using a methodology approved by the Indian Council for Medical Research. The study was conducted from June 27 to July 10. This test is not a diagnostic test, but only provides information about past infection in individuals who test positive.
Antibody testing, repeatedly done over time, generates important evidence for assessing the spread of the pandemic from time to time.
4 lakh still in hospital
The Health Ministry on Tuesday reported that of 11.55 lakh persons found infected with Covid-19 symptoms in the country so far, as many as 4.02 lakh are still in hospitals undergoing treatment.Meanwhile, the death toll rose to 28,084 with 587 dying in the past 24 hours, while as many as 35,148 were detected to be positive.