Kashmir Has Herd Immunity Against COVID-19

SRINAGAR: A pan-Kashmir cross-sectional sero-study was conducted among the general population and various subsets of the population which include police personnel, healthcare workers, pregnant women by government medical college Srinagar in collaboration with Community Medicine departments of SKIMS, SKIMS Medical College Srinagar, Government Medical College Anantnag and Government Medical College Baramulla with full support and cooperation from the directorate of health sciences Kashmir and supported by National Health Mission.

The Department of Community Medicine GMC Srinagar was the nodal center while all testing procedures were conducted by the department of Biochemistry, GMC Srinagar. The study was approved by the institutional ethics committee of GMC Srinagar.

In the general population of seven years and above, the study was conducted in all 10 districts of Kashmir; data was collected in the month of July 2021 with each medical college mentoring two districts. Within each district, 10 clusters were randomly selected and within each cluster 40 samples were collected from individuals more than 7 years of age after obtaining proper informed consent for the study.

The household and individual data was collected on customised Epicollect5 software.

All the blood samples were sent to BSL-2 lab at the Biochemistry Department of GMC Srinagar for analysis on high end Abbott Architect i1000 & i2000 automatic analysers.

Total samples processed and reported include 3586 samples from the general population with a mean age of 35.33 ±18 years. Further, 2077 samples have been processed and reported from among the police personals, HCW and antenatal women.

Our study population among general population in 10 districts of Kashmir shows 84.3% of our study population was positive for IgG-II (or the anti spike protein) antibody which are produced after infection with SARS CoV -2 as well as after vaccination.

The IgM antibody which is usually produced by recent infection with SARS Cov-2 (can rarely also be produced in recent vaccination) .This antibody was positive in about 20.75 % of participants.

The district wise IgG II (Anti Spike antibodies) status is: Anantnag – 87.23%, Bandipora – 84.42%, Baramulla -84.91%, Budgam – 83.68%, Ganderbal – 82.8%, Kulgam – 82.95%, Kupwara – 81.05%, Pulwama – 78.24%, Shopian – 86.89%, Srinagar – 89.77%, Total – 84.36%.

The above figures show that Srinagar and Anantnag have the highest seroprevalence in terms of IgG II (anti spike  protein IgG antibody).

During the time of study in July 2021, a total of 20.3% of participants had received 2 doses of vaccination and the majority (79.25) had received none. However, since then the vaccination has scaled up and the seropositivity due to vaccination would have gone up also.

We encourage that people shall follow COVID appropriate behaviour by using face masks, maintain social distancing, hand hygiene and more importantly shall go for full Vaccination against COVID which has been proved to be safe and effective against COVID, said Dr S Muhammad Salim Khan, Professor and HOD Community Medicine Government College Srinagar and principal investigator of the study.

While analysing the data from various subsets, we would definitely request every eligible person to go for Vaccination against COVID as over these months we have seen a significant drop in number of cases who have been admitted in hospitals with moderate to severe diseases. Further, scaling up vaccination would reduce chances of any possible severe third wave, he asserted.

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