New Delhi (NVI): The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has expressed concern after it found reinfection cases in 4.5 % of those who contracted the virus.
The study of 1,300 individuals, published in the Epidemiology and Infection journal, was conducted to develop an epidemiological understanding of reinfection and assess its magnitude in India and suggested to boost the surveillance.
According to the study, a working epidemiological case definition for re-infection was developed and its magnitude was explored via archive-based, telephonic survey.
“The present investigation contributes to this goal and records reinfection in 4.5 % of SARS CoV-2 infected individuals in India,” it stated.
According to the study conducted by ICMR, the reinfection of COVID-19 has been defined as two positive tests at an interval of 102 days with one negative molecular test in between.
Dr Samiran Panda, head, epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR has noted that the data was for only for eight months and it may be higher and it was important to follow protective behaviour even after infection or vaccination.
“The findings may be of concern because the data was for only for eight months—from January 22 to October 7, 2020. This may be much higher… in the current scenario where we are seeing increasing fresh cases. That’s why it is very important to adopt protective behaviour even after infection or vaccination,” said Dr Samiran Panda who is one of the authors of the study.
He also said that the reinfection cases in the country can be tabbed easily as compared to earlier.
“The reinfection cases were earlier confirmed by only genome sequencing for which we need specific infrastructure, which may not be available everywhere. With the new definition, we can easily tab reinfection cases in India,” he added.
The study stated that public health measures such as physical distancing, hand hygiene, and use of masks should be followed after recovery from the first infection though reinfection is rarely reported.
Experts also said the epidemiological definition of reinfection is needed for establishing a surveillance system as India’s vaccination drive rolled into its latest phase.