COVID-19 task force member suggests Maharashtra-specific sero survey

By: |
August 09, 2021 9:59 PM

The task force member said the Maharashtra government has given a big relaxations by allowing fully vaccinated people to travel in suburban trains in Mumbai from August 15 and if the cases continue to drop, more easing of curbs may take place from September 1.

The death toll due to the disease stands at 25,082. On Sunday, the city reported 30 coronavirus cases and zero deaths due to the infection.The death toll due to the disease stands at 25,082. On Sunday, the city reported 30 coronavirus cases and zero deaths due to the infection.

Maharashtra COVID-19 task force member Dr Shashank Joshi on Monday said it is necessary to conduct a state-specific sero survey to assess the presence of anti-bodies among people as the state is still reporting a high number of coronavirus cases.

He said Maharashtra, which has reported 63,57,833 coronavirus cases as on August 9, is faced with a “thick tail” of COVID-19 though the second wave of the pandemic has ebbed but has not gone away completely.

The task force member said the Maharashtra government has given a big relaxations by allowing fully vaccinated people to travel in suburban trains in Mumbai from August 15 and if the cases continue to drop, more easing of curbs may take place from September 1.

Dr Joshi was speaking to a regional news channel on the state government’s policy to introduce more coronavirus relaxations and bring life back to normalcy.

“It is necessary to have a Maharashtra-specific sero-survey to have better understanding of the situation in the state. Maharashtra is still dealing with a thick tail of COVID-19 cases and it is very notorious,” he said.

A sero-prevalance survey involves testing of blood serum of individuals to detect antibodies against an infection (coronavirus in this case). Antibodies are proteins made by the immune system to fight infections.

He clarified that having antibodies does not mean it is safe for people to mix and ignore social distancing.

“Brazil’s 70 per cent population had antbodies, still they suffered severely in the second wave of COVID-19,” said the endocrinologist.

“The country is reporting 35,000 to 40,000 COVID-19 cases daily of which around 6,000 are from Maharashtra. Our state is still on the second spot in terms of daily COVID-19 cases (after Kerala),” said Dr Joshi.

Kerala is adding 18,000 to 20,000 cases on a daily basis.

“Our efforts are to reduce the thick tail (of COVID-19). We expect people to be more patient,” he said.

“The Maharashtra government is taking every step slowly and cautiously because of these reasons.  The first major step of introducing relaxations has been taken by allowing (fully vaccinated) people to travel by local trains (in Mumbai) from August 15.

“If we continue to report less number of cases, next major step could be taken on September 1,” he said.

“We need to avoid the mistakes made between the first and second waves. The second wave has not yet gone completely,” he said.

Asked about state’s stand on not reopening schools, Dr Joshi said, “It is globally proven that schools and religious gatherings have worked as super spreaders of the novel coronavirus infection.

“The US prematurely reopened schools and (now) it is not just reporting higher number of cases, but deaths are also increasing there.”

Dr Joshi said Maharashtra does not have enough doses of coronavirus vaccines.

“Our aim to give both the doses of vaccines against COVID-19 to maximum (adult) population. (More) relaxations in Mumbai could be introduced after its 70 per cent population is covered,” he said.

People need to be more patient about relaxations, Dr Joshi added.

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