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Why are COVID cases in India decreasing, despite the low double vaccination rate?

Bikas Das/AAP

Why are COVID cases in India decreasing, despite the low double vaccination rate?

Bikas Das/AAP

Why are COVID cases in India decreasing, despite the low double vaccination rate?

Bikas Das/AAP

Why are COVID cases in India decreasing, despite the low double vaccination rate?

Bikas Das/AAP

The fourth national survey in July reported 67.6% of people across India had COVID antibodies present, providing them with a level of immunity against the virus.

Rajib Dasgupta, Jawaharlal Nehru University

COVID continues to slow down in India. The festival season, which includes Durga Puja and Diwali where large groups of Indians gather, did not lead to a surge in cases. Epidemiological modellers had earlier predicted a third wave peaking during October and November.

Daily new cases have dropped from a peak of more than 400,000 per day in May 2021 to currently below 10,000 cases a day.

And while antibody tests might give us a clue as to why, we can’t get complacent about vaccination rates.

Signals from recent antibody tests

In India, “serosurveys” have been regularly conducted since the pandemic began. This is where blood is tested from large numbers of people to check for the presence of COVID antibodies – the things our bodies make after being infected with COVID or receiving a COVID vaccine.

The fourth national survey in July reported 67.6% of people across India had COVID antibodies present, providing them with a level of immunity against the virus. At that time 24.8% of people were immunised with a single dose of vaccine and 13% were fully vaccinated. This means a large proportion of those with antibodies had actually been infected with COVID.

Delhi reported 97% of people were positive for antibodies in October, including 80% of children. Some 95.3% of those immunised with the Indian version of the Astrazeneca vaccine Covishield had developed antibodies, as did 93% of those who received India’s own vaccine Covaxin.

The state of Haryana’s serosurvey in October found antibodies in 76.3% of adults, upwards of 70% among children, and negligible difference between urban and rural populations.

Kerala had the lowest sero-prevalence of 44.4% in the fourth national serosurvey in July, but in October it had risen to 82.6% among the general population and 85.3% among residents of urban slums.

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