Kerala’s third seroprevalence study carried out in September found that 40% of children have been exposed to COVID-19.

Health workers clad in blue PPE kit collecting swab for COVID-19 test Image for Representation
news COVID-19 Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - 11:27

At least 82.6% of Kerala’s adult population has COVID-19 antibodies, as per data released by the state Health Department. Kerala’s high seroprevalence may be due to people being exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 or due to individuals being vaccinated, said a statement released by Health Minister Veena George on October 11. Kerala has vaccinated 93.16% of its population with the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 43.14% are fully vaccinated.

Kerala conducted its third seroprevalence study in September. Data released from the Health Department shows that out of 4429 samples collected from persons above the age of 18 across all districts, 3659 had COVID-19 antibodies. The sero survey also aimed to find out the level of COVID-19 exposure among pregnant women, children between the ages of five and 17, tribal and coastal communities and those living in slums in urban areas. 

The sero survey collected 2274 samples from pregnant women belonging to the age group of 18 to 49. Out of this, 1487 samples returned positive for COVID-19 antibodies, suggesting a seroprevalence of 65.4% among pregnant women in the state. "The seroprevalence of pregnant women is 65.4%. This could be due to the COVID-19 protective measures the women had taken during pregnancy and not getting vaccinated during pregnancy," the release said.

At least 40.2% of children aged between 5 and 17 had been exposed to COVID-19 infection, with 586 samples out of 1459 testing positive for antibodies. Schools are scheduled to reopen in Kerala from November 1. "COVID vaccination in children has not been approved in India. Also exposure to COVID-19 is less among this age group  and this has led to low seroprevalence among children," the Health Department’s release stated.

The seroprevalence among persons living in coastal regions was the highest at 87.6%, while it was 78.2% among tribal persons above the age of 18. At least 85.3% of persons living in slums in urban areas had COVID-19 antibodies, found the sero survey. 

The September sero-survey shows a sharp rise in the number of Kerala residents with COVID-19 antibodies. In the fourth national sero-survey published in July by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Kerala had a seroprevalence of 44.4% – the lowest among 21 states.