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Seroprevalence of SARS-COV-2 Antibodies, India: slums of Mumbai show 57%

Taj Mahal by Free-Photos courtesy of

The Union health ministry said in a statement that 21,387 samples were collected in accordance with laboratory standards and were tested between June 27 and July 10 to determine the extent of the spread of the coronavirus disease in Delhi.

“Nearly six months into the epidemic, only 23.48% of the people are affected in Delhi, which has several pockets of dense population,” the Union health ministry, which commissioned the study, said in a statement.

As on July 28, Mumbai has recorded 1,10,846 [sic] COVID-19 cases and 6,184 deaths.

A sero-surveillance study done in Mumbai has revealed that 57% of slum population and 16 per cent of non-slum residents in three civic wards had developed antibodies, indicating many people would already be affected by COVID-19 than the official tally suggests.

The Serological Surveillance for SARS-CoV2 infection was jointly commissioned by NITI Aayog, the BMC and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).

The sero-surveillance started on June 3 and 6,936 samples out of an estimated 8,870 were collected from slum and non-slum population of three civic wards — R-North, M-West and F-North — in the first half of July.

As of today, India has had 1,582,028 confirmed cases and 34,956 deaths, with 1,019,740 people recovered from the virus.

These reports are taken from Indian newspaper websites and published July 29. According to Wikipedia, the average age is 29 in India and more than 50% of the population is under 25. This is the youngest average for all countries in the world, according to this 2017 article in Financial Express of India.

For comparison, the median age is 38.2 in the US as of 2018; Maine has the highest median at 45 and Utah the lowest at 31.

The penetration of coronavirus is intense in the slums of Mumbai, yet the youth of the population seems to have reduced morbidity and mortality. Testing rates have been very low, although no exact data is available, only totals for the country. Authorities are freely admitting that funds for testing and treatment are simply not available in the needed amounts.

This article in the Washington Post on July 17 argues that India’s low death rate is due to under-reporting. The article also states that the pandemic is spreading unchecked throughout the country.

The hospital situation in India is surely as bad as that in Mexico. Fortunately for those who wish to know, there is better reporting about what is going on there. I was unable to locate any seroprevalence studies for Mexico at all.

Another statistic, not quite relevant but of interest: life expectancy at birth in India in 2020 for men is 68.4 and for women 71.2– while in the US, for men it is 76.2 and for women 81.2. For Mexico, men’s numbers are 72.12 and women’s 77.84. For Japan, the numbers are: 81.25 years for men and 87.32 years for women in 2018. (Numbers from Wikipedia and Google.)

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