Sero-prevalence survey shows only tip of the infection in Delhi, says doctors’ forum
Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum has stated that the sero-survey established the utter failure of the Central and Delhi governments to control the spread of COVID-19 in the national Capital
Slamming the findings of the sero-prevalence study conducted by the National Center for Disease Control in Delhi, the Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum (PMSF) has stated that the sero-survey established the utter failure of the Central and Delhi governments to control the spread of COVID-19 in the national Capital.
The NCDC study had stated that 21,387 blood samples were collected as per lab standards and tests were done to help in identification of presence of antibodies in the general population. The tests performed were not a diagnostic test but only provided information about past infection due to SARS CoV-2 in individuals who tested positive.
The results of the sero-prevalence study show that across Delhi, on an average, the prevalence of IgG antibodies is 23.48 %. The study also indicates that a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic. Patting the back of the Delhi government, the NCDC study attributed the low prevalence to the proactive efforts taken by the state government to prevent the spread of infection including prompt lockdown, effective containment and surveillance measures.
“The failure of government’s measures is not a matter of perception but is borne out of facts which can be deduced from these results. It hardly goes to the credit of the government that most of the cases were asymptomatic. According to WHO, around 80% of the COVID-19 cases are either mild or asymptomatic. A further 15% of the infections are severe infections, and 5% are critical cases,” stated Dr Vikas Bajpai, PMSF national executive member.
Given that the estimated population of Delhi is 3.02 crore in 2020, a prevalence of 23.48% cases would amount to 71,12,327 cases of COVID-19 cases in Delhi. The number of severe and critical infections would be 10,66,849 and 3,55,616 respectively, said PMSF.
The government continues to insist that only containment measures work. “We would like to emphasise that along with containment measures, the need is to improve the efficiency and the reach of the publicly-funded health services to provide effective treatment to the people,” said Dr Harjit Bhatti, PMSF national convenor.
“It is well known that a large number of beds in government COVID-19 designated hospitals are lying vacant, and despite all the theatrics by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah and CM Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government, the cost of COVID-19 treatment in private hospitals, even at the capped rates, is not affordable by common people, including a large section of the middle class,” Bhatti said.
It needs be remembered, Bhatti noted, that more than 50% of Delhi’s population lives in slums and resettlement colonies and if unauthorised colonies were to be counted, that would make it 75%. It is this section of the population, living in dense clusters, and unhygienic conditions which makes ‘physical distancing’ merely a catch phrase. They are likely to catch the infection, stated PMSF.
“Given the stratified nature of the society and the inter-laden power equations, the credibility of our health services hardly inspires confidence that they would have made every effort to reach out to these marginalised sections,” said Bajpai.