India far from achieving Herd Immunity against COVID-19: Union Health Minister
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday stated that the Indian population is still far from achieving herd immunity against COVID-19 as indicated by early findings of the second Sero survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) across the country.
“The findings of the second sero survey are going to be released soon. However, the survey shows that we are far from having achieved any kind of herd immunity which calls for every individual to continue following COVID-appropriate behaviour,” the Union Minister said while interacting with social media users on Sunday.
Notedly, India conducted its first nationwide sero-survey in May 2020 which identified COVID-19 infection prevalence in the country at only 0.73 percent. ICMR officials have also confirmed that the second phase of the sero survey is a follow-up of the first, adding that the same procedure has been repeated this time of what was done in May when the pandemic lockdown was in place in the country. ICMR’s National Institute of Epidemiology in Chennai, Tamil Nadu is the nodal agency to carry out the survey, process the samples, and analyse the results.
The findings of the second sero survey are going to be released soon. However, the survey shows that we are far from having achieved any kind of herd immunity which calls for every individual to continue following COVID-appropriate behaviourUnion Health Minister
Dr Vardhan further notified that the ICMR has been actively investigating and researching reports of reinfection, even though the number of reinfection cases in India is significantly less at the moment. He went on to urge citizens to observe COVID-19 precautionary measures, adding that a potential number of the country’s population is susceptible to getting infected.
“ICMR’s sero survey report should not create a sense of complacency in people as usually herd immunity is achieved when about 60-70% of a country’s population has developed antibodies against the virus. Since that is not the case for us yet, we must know that a significantly large population in India is susceptible to getting infected, which is why it is extremely important to observe Covid-19 appropriate behaviour,” the Health Minister added.
At the same time, epidemiologists have also indicated that India is far from achieving herd immunity.
What is Herd Immunity?
Herd immunity happens when a significant population becomes immune to an infectious disease either through vaccination or from the immunity that is developed through previous infection that prevents the disease from spreading in the community.
During the social media discussion, the Union Health Minister also stated that state/UT governments have been asked to lower the prices of COVID-19 tests to ensure that more tests are conducted.
“The domestic production of kits and supplies of testing kits have stabilized. The health ministry has written to States and Union Territories to engage private laboratories at mutually agreeable lower rates,” he said.
Dr Vardhan also added that in recent months, India has made rapid strides in the manufacturing of ventilators, PPEs, testing kits and other medical devices which will not only help in meeting the domestic requirement but will also assist in fulfilling global demand for low-cost, quality medical devices.