Coronavirus in Mumbai: Doctors find BMC’s sero study findings a bit hard to digest
BL Soni

A mere 15% of individuals from slum and non-slum areas have a history of diabetes along with Covid-19, according to the first serological survey conducted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) in collaboration with the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). However, doctors say this number is low, as more than 20% of Mumbai's population is diabetic. Researchers also said, the fear of being quarantined kept most people from residential areas from revealing their actual health status during the study.

According to the survey, 144 (6%) of 2,387 slumdwellers and 30 (8.37%) of 358 people from non-slum areas were diabetics. The civic body, along with NITI Aayog and the TIFR, had on July 3 started sero-surveillance in three wards—M-West (Tilak Nagar and Chembur), F-North (Matunga, Sion and Wadala) and R-North (Dahisar and Mandapeshwar). The study involved a group of individuals being subjected to blood tests to detect the presence of Immunoglobulin-G (IgG) antibodies.

Principal investigator of the survey Ullas S Kolthur and researcher Sandeep Juneja from the TIFR said most participants, both from slum and non-slum areas, had provided wrong information related to their health. Now another study is necessitated, to ascertain facts. “This week, we will restart the survey afresh in the same wards, to ascertain the exact percentage of the spread of the virus,” said Additional Municipal Commissioner Suresh Kakani.

According to Juneja, “There is lesser prevalence of lifestyle diseases in non-slum areas as many individuals did not provide correct information during the survey, fearing they would be quarantined.”

Diabetologist Dr Shashank Joshi, who is also a member of the state task force for Covid-19, said the study was done to determine the prevalence of Covid in individuals, but researchers have also recorded the participants' medical histories. “So far, more than 50% who died of corona in the city had comorbidities and diabetes was a common factor. But this study shows that only 15% of the participants have diabetes, which is rather low,” he said.

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