GMC Scanning Health Workers For IgG Levels To Understand Inherent Defence Against Virus

by Khalid Bashir Gura

SRINAGAR: As the coronavirus cases are soaring across Jammu and Kashmir, about to cross the 5000 mark and 61 deaths, the Government Medical College (GMC) is conducting seroprevalence study of its own staff. In the initial phase, all the healthcare providers will be covered.

A doctor taking samples for sero-prevalence of antibodies against an immunoglobulin Blood test SARS-CoV-2 at Bone and Joint Hospital Barzulla, Srinagar on Monday, June 15, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

The study is important as it will enable to check infection status and the history of its prevalence in the people if the cases are asymptomatic or were unaware of its presence.

The study will be conducted for a span of three weeks for SARS CoV-2 infection by testing the immunoglobulin-G (IgG) levels, to determine the presence of community spread to development of herd immunity and whether the samples have been infected in the recent past with SARS CoV-2 and the degree of immunity the patients developed in combating the disease.

In the first phase, around 3,000 health workers will be tested for IgG levels.

In the initial phase, today, blood samples from health care providers from Srinagar’s two major health institutions; Government Hospital from Bone and Joint Surgery and Lal Ded the hospital were taken for survey.

Dr Salim Khan, head of GMC social and community medicine department, said this is a critical survey which will help us understand the disease dynamics and in assessing its spread in Srinagar and other districts of Kashmir. The survey will take 21 days to complete in which initially health care workers will be covered, and as it is in the pipeline it will be expanded to the general population in other districts as well.

This is a collaborative research project by various departments like the department of community medicine and Biochemistry and around 3,000 healthcare providers attending patients in Srinagar hospitals and health centres would be tested for IgG levels, which would show whether they have been infected in the recent past with SARS CoV-2 and the degree of defence against the disease, they have achieved.

“Doctors, nursing paramedic, the support staff of various Associated Hospitals of GMC Srinagar and various hospitals and health centres of Directorate of Health Services under CMO Srinagar will be tested,” Dr Khan said. The study has been permitted and approved by the institutional ethics committee of GMC Srinagar and permitted by the district magistrate.

A health worker clad in full protective gear collects information before collecting the blood samples to test immunity IgG level of health workers at Bone and Joint Hospital in Srinagar on Monday, June 15, 2020. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Doctors Association President, Dr Suhail Naik said, the study is important as it will provide us with important insights especially in Kashmir where the majority of people are asymptomatic. “It will help us in forming new health policies and it will ease the disease burden on us as it will give us accurate assessment about the number of people exposed previously to infection and the immunity they developed. The mortality rate will also change so does the lethality of the disease for the community so does the fear of disease within a community,” said the president who himself is yet to be tested as he is posted outside Srinagar. This test will give an immune passport to people which will assure them they had contracted virus, were asymptomatic and are immune to disease and in future can donate plasma to patients. Being positive in this test will give an immune passport to individuals and they can carry on with life without fear.

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