New Delhi: With Andhra Pradesh nearing 2 lakh Covid-19 cases, the state government Friday started a sero-surveillance survey in four of the 13 districts to find out the extent of the infection among people.
The survey will be carried out across Krishna, Nellore, East Godavari and Anantapur districts, and nearly 3,750 blood samples from each district will be collected in the first phase — from 7-12 August, according to a state government document.
In a sero survey, blood serum of a group of individuals is tested to detect the presence of antibodies against an infection, which in this case is the SARS-CoV-2 virus. This also helps identify individuals, who were previously infected with the virus and have now recovered.
AP government officials told ThePrint that besides the four districts chosen for the survey, other districts might also be included later.
While East Godavari has constantly been reporting a surge of cases, Krishna and Nellore, which initially reported a large number of cases, has now shown improvement, officials said.
As of 6 August, Anantapur has recorded a total of 20,061 cases, East Godavari 26,229, Nellore 9,917, and Krishna 8,679 cases, according to state government data.
On Thursday, the state reported 10,328 new cases, taking the total tally to 1,96,789.
Details of the survey
The government document on the survey stated that blood serum samples will be tested for IgG antibodies using the CLIA (Chemiluminescence Enzyme Immunoassays) method and such machines are also available in the state. IgG is a type of antibody that is produced in the blood after an infection.
While districts of Krishna and Nellore have CLIA machines of their own and can conduct the tests at their respective district headquarters, Anantapur and East Godavari don’t have such machines, and their samples need to be sent to Kurnool and Guntur, respectively.
District-wise epidemiologists will advise the government on the various aspects of the survey.
The government document mentioned that participating in the survey is voluntary. Also, only those people who have not got tested even once before for Covid-19 will be allowed to give their blood samples, it stated.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had in May issued an advisory to all the states, asking them to conduct sero surveys to monitor the pandemic.
According to the advisory, the sero survey tests can be carried out on frontline workers, medical professionals, vendors, police personnel, staff of restaurant, grocery shops, etc. Additionally, individuals residing in containment zones and patients with chronic illnesses like tuberculosis, HIV, etc. can also be surveyed.
All age groups to be covered
Collector of Krishna district Mohammad Imitiyaz told ThePrint that of the total 3,750 samples to be collected from the district, 1,125 will be collected from the urban areas, and 2,625 from the rural parts.
Blood samples will be collected from high-risk category people such as frontline workers, police, health workers, those living in containment zones and non-containment zones as well, he said.
“Each AP surveillance team will consist of a medical officer, lab technician, and an ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) worker. They have been directed to give the samples they’ve collected everyday before 4 pm,” Imitiyaz added.
As far as the target age group is concerned, government officials said all age groups will be covered.
Talking to ThePrint, Dr K. Rambabu, state Covid-19 coordinator, said according to the ICMR guidelines, women should be given preference for testing during the survey.
He added that one person in every 10th household will be tested.
“There is a full plan we have drawn, according to which 16 villages in each containment zone in rural areas, and, similarly, two mandals and eight villages in each non-containment zone in rural areas in each district (will be covered in the survey),” Dr Rambabu added.