In a move to assess the transmission of the novel coronavirus among asymptomatic people in Telangana, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) has conducted sero-surveillance in three districts – Jangaon, Kamareddy and Nalgonda.
The drive is part of a countrywide initiative by ICMR, where as many as 60 districts are being covered across 20 states. In Telangana, the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) in Hyderabad has carried out the survey in 30 villages across three districts.
According to officials from NIN, the sero-surveillance will enable researchers to ascertain whether the population in a region has developed antibodies against the novel coronavirus, which would indicate the extent of spread of infection in the given population and also help in ascertaining herd immunity levels.
Concerned district officials were engaged to ensure that the process takes place smoothly.
There were 15 field teams and each district saw five teams of experts who collected 40 random samples from people who are above 18 years old in selected villages. These three districts have zero cases in the last 14 days. 10 random villages were selected in each of the three districts by authorities.
NATIONAL SERO SURVEILLANCE SURVEY TO MONITOR TREND OF SARS-CoV-2 INFECTION TRANSMISSION— ICMR - National Institute of Nutrition (@ICMRNIN) May 17, 2020
NIN with Telangana Govt has completed first phase survey. 1200 samples collected, 3 Dists, 15 field teams, 3 lab teams and 3 dist coordinators.@ICMRDELHI @NINDirector #COVIDWarriors pic.twitter.com/mzZv4RrucH
A total of 1200 samples were collected in two days. Dr A Laxmaiah, who is an epidemiologist and public health nutrition specialist at NIN, acted as the state nodal officer.
Dr R Hemalatha, director of NIN said, "The study will be carried out in four rounds in the same villages (repeat cross sectional study). The initial survey would serve as a baseline to determine the sero-prevalence of SARS-COV-2 infection in the community, while the subsequent rounds would help to monitor the trends of infection in the community."
"Population based sero-epidemiological studies will help us to determine the burden of COVID-19 infection at the community level and to monitor the trends in transmission of the infection," she added.
She further stated that the study's findings will be useful as a guide in designing and implementing appropriate containment measures.