Centre’s claim that less than 2% Indians have been affected by Covid-19 isn’t supported by ICMR data -Anuprova Ghose

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published Published on May 21, 2021   modified Modified on May 26, 2021


The Indian Council of Medical Research’s latest national serological survey shows the real number could be 21%.

The Joint Secretary of the Union Ministry of Health and Welfare, Lav Agarwal, during a press briefing on May 18, claimed that less than 2% of the population of the country has been infected by Covid-19 in the past 16 months.

He also lauded the continuous efforts of the Centre and state governments in coordination with the medical fraternity for containing the spread. “Despite the high number of cases reported so far, we have been able to contain the spread to under 2% of the population”, said Agarwal.

According to the data Agarwal presented, the percentage of the population infected with the virus stood at 1.8% with a total tally of 2.54 crore cases so far.

But the serological survey conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research and experts FactChecker spoke to point the other way.

Misleading claim

The ICMR’s third and latest national serological survey, conducted between December 17, 2020, and January 8, showed that 21.4% of India’s adult population had Covid-19 by mid-December 2020. The medical research body surveyed 28,589 people aged 18 years and above. While in the age bracket of 10 years-17 years, 25.3% of those surveyed had Covid-19 antibodies.

Serological surveys are conducted through the collection of blood samples from the general population and are tested for IgG antibodies and if a person is IgG positive, it means that person has been exposed to SARS CoV-2 sometime in the past. The survey was conducted on 700 villages and wards from 70 districts of 21 states.

Urban slums and urban non-slums had a higher prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 than the rural areas with the percentage of the affected population being 31.7%, 26.2% and 19.1%, respectively.

This goes to show that Agarwal’s claim is misleading. Also, experts told Factchecker that for every single case confirmed by the laboratories and reported officially in India, there are 20-30 unconfirmed cases that were found by the serological survey.

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Scroll.in, 21 May, 2021, https://scroll.in/article/995442/centres-claim-that-less-than-2-indians-have-been-affected-by-covid-19-isnt-supported-by-icmr-data?fbclid=IwAR0aipTflbQibHuaiwGY095pgXbixmyelqtEePrpfGgkHk4DpeuvGLiDvmE

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