Coronavirus – Health and Governance Issues

What is a Serological Survey?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Serological survey

Mains level : Paper 2- Health and pandemic control measures

A Serological Survey was recently conducted in New Delhi to determine the exposure of the novel coronavirus among the population.

Try this question from CSP 2019:

Which one of the following statements is not correct?

(a) Hepatitis B virus is transmitted much like HIV.
(b) Hepatitis B, unlike Hepatitis C, does not have a vaccine.
(c) Globally, the number of people infected with Hepatitis B and C viruses is several times more than those infected with HIV.
(d) Some of those infected with Hepatitis Band C viruses do not show the symptoms for many years.

Serological Survey

  • A serological survey seeks to assess the prevalence of the disease in a population by detecting the presence of specific antibodies against the virus.
  • A serological test is performed to diagnose infections and autoimmune illnesses. It can also be conducted to check if a person has developed immunity to certain diseases.
  • The survey included the IgG Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) test which estimates the proportion of the population exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • The IgG test is not useful for detecting acute infections, but it indicates episodes of infections that may have occurred in the past.
  • The test has been approved by ICMR for its high sensitivity and specificity.

Highlights of the Survey

  • The study found the presence of antibodies in 22.86 percent of the people surveyed.
  • It indicated that a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic.

Why needed such survey?

  • Since it is not possible to test everyone in the population, serological studies are used as a tool to make an estimate of the extent of disease spread in the community.

Conclusions from the survey

  • Results show that a significant proportion of the population is still vulnerable to contracting the novel coronavirus infection.
  • Containment measures need to continue with the same rigour.
  • Non-pharmacological interventions such as physical distancing, use of face mask/cover, hand hygiene, cough etiquette and avoidance of crowded places etc. must be followed strictly.

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