SRINAGAR: More than 78 percent of children below 18 years of age and 64 percent of pregnant women have developed antibodies against COVID 19 in Kashmir.
A first-ever seroprevalence survey to find Covid antibodies in children and pregnant women was conducted by Community Medicine departments of SKIMS, SKIMS Medical College, Srinagar, Government Medical College Anantnag, and Government Medical College, Baramulla.
“The study has shown that 78 % of children under 18 years of age sampled during the survey in July this year have developed antibodies against COVID virus. Moreover, 64 percent of pregnant women sampled during the same survey across 10 districts of Kashmir also exhibited IgG antibodies against SARS CoV-2 Infection during the month of July when less than 1% among the sampled pregnant group were vaccinated against COVID infection during that time,” said Dr. S. Muhammad Salim Khan, Professor and HOD Community Medicine Government College Srinagar and principal investigator of the study.
The seroprevalence study was conducted across all 10 districts of Kashmir to assess IgG antibodies among the general population and various subgroups. Children and pregnant women were first time surveyed in Kashmir.
Even though schools are closed and under eighteen years of age group population is still unvaccinated, the high prevalence of IgG antibodies among them shows that there has been widespread infection within the families as is evident from the data.
The study shows the prevalence among 18-45 years and above 45 years has been approximately 84% and 89.5% respectively. During this period, the genomic sequencing has shown that the Delta variant was the dominating strain of SARS CoV-2 virus circulating in Kashmir and the hospital admissions and deaths have been very much insignificant.
Except for visiting schools, there haven’t been major restrictions for the movement of the general population including children. With such high seropositivity among children, the stakeholders need to converge and decide about the opening of schools or otherwise.
“The vaccination needs to be scaled up as we have seen over 90% seropositivity among health care providers and police personnel whose vaccination status is also over 90%, said Dr. Salim.
It is in place to mention that this study was conducted by GMC 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 from the directorate of health services Kashmir and J&K National Health Mission.
The samples were tested on Abbott Architect i1000 & i2000 auto-analyzers using chemiluminescent immunoassay technique at biosafety level-2 lab of department of Biochemistry GMC Srinagar. Department of community medicine coordinated the pan -Kashmir district-wise study.