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Children to escape COVID-19 third wave? AIIMS-WHO study finds higher sero-positivity

As per this study, which was conducted in five selected states with a total sample size of 10,000, the sero-positivity rate was high among children and was comparable to the adult population

A joint study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and World Health Organisation (WHO) reported a higher SARS-CoV-2 sero-positivity rate among children. The study quelled concerns about a likely third COVID-19 wave affecting children more than adults.

As per this study, which was conducted in five selected states with a total sample size of 10,000, the sero-positivity rate was high among children and was comparable to the adult population. Sero-positivity means having enough antibodies to combat viral infections.

Data of 4,509 participants was collated to combine the results of the study from four states of India. Out of the participants for whom data is available, 700 were aged less than 18 while 3,809 were aged 18.

Resettlement colonies located in South Delhi's urban areas, which have a very congested population, had a very high seroprevalence of 74.7 per cent, as per Professor of Community Medicine at AIIMS and survey lead Dr. Puneet Misra. Even before the second wave, children below the age of 18 had 73.9 per cent seroprevalence in South Delhi.

Dr. Misra added, "These areas in Delhi and NCR (Faridabad) may have higher seroprevalence after the intense second wave. Probably, these levels of seroprevalence may be protective against any 'Third wave'."

The survey noted, "In congested urban areas of Delhi, since children already have high seroprevalence, opening schools, may after all not be a very risky proposition. During the second wave, the NCR region of Faridabad (rural area) has a seroprevalence of 59.3 per  cent (almost equal in both age groups), could be considered high compared to previous national surveys."

This survey added that Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur Rural area has extremely seroprevalence levels of 87.9 per cent in the 2-18 year age group and 80.6 per cent in people aged 18 years and above. These levels are likely to keep a 'third wave' at bay and also imply higher chances of achieving herd immunity.

"Overall, more than half (62.3 per cent) of the rural population surveyed showed evidence of past infection," the survey mentioned. Agartala Rural had the least seroprevalence at 51.9 per cent probably because it also comprised tribal population which generally has lower mobility, thus, leading to lower chances of COVID-19 infection.

Edited by Mehak Agarwal; with agency inputs

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