Covid-19 cases in India may have been underreported by as much as 300 percent, says a community social media survey.
The survey, conducted across the country, including 35 percent of the samples from districts of all southern states, showed that three in four surveyed with Covid-19 symptoms in the last month confirmed not taking the Covid-19 test.
“The survey asked respondents about their Covid-19 testing practices in the last month,” a release from Local Circles said.
“Shockingly, 76 percent of those with Covid-19 symptoms confirmed that they had not taken the test. Only 12 percent admitted to taking the RT-PCR test, and another 12 percent had taken both the RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test,” it added.
Why was the survey conducted?
India is continuing to record a significant number of cases on a daily basis, and the positivity rate is also going up in several districts, including southern states like Kerala and Karnataka.
To get a sense of the magnitude of Covid-19 cases, Local Circles decided to conduct a national survey.
The company reached out to 11,000 citizens located in 303 districts of the country.
While 66 percent of the respondents were men, 34 percent were women.
Of these, 46 percent of the respondents were from tier-1 districts, 32 percent from tier-2 districts, and 22 percent were from tier-3 and 4 districts.
Around 35 percent of the respondents were from five states of South India.
The survey asked respondents whether they or their immediate family members were undertaking a Covid-19 test when having Covid-like symptoms.
It asked, “In the last one month, when you or your family member had symptoms like cold, cough, fever, fatigue, respiratory issues, etc, did you undertake a covid test?”
Around 76 percent of the respondents admitted that they did not take any Covid-19 test despite the symptoms.
Feedback in the community indicates that most people aren’t considering taking the Covid-19 test unless the individual experiencing them had comorbidities or other conditions, while the majority were just undergoing symptomatic treatment.
What do doctors say?
A physician from Bengaluru, Dr Sanjay G, said the disease might be mildly symptomatic, but it was better to get tested when symptoms of Covid-19 occurred.
Children, the elderly, or comorbid people at home might get infected again due to waning immunity, and might even become seriously ill.
Testing themselves and isolating was important, said the doctor.
Meanwhile, the survey report also said that repeated infections of Covid-19 were known to cause medium- and long-term health conditions, making an individual more vulnerable with every infection.
“One of the advantages of timely testing is that the individual can take precautions and prevent the infection from spreading to others,” the report stated.
Why are states asking you to mask up in hospitals?
Some states, including Karnataka, have made it mandatory for all healthcare workers and patients to mask up in hospitals, the reason being patients can pick up Covid-19 from there.
Recently, a paper from Canada also said that the strongest independent risk factor for nosocomial (hospital-acquired) Covid-19 was exposure in a multi-bedded room.
Dr Rajeev Jayadevan, a member of the IMA’s Covid-19 committee from Kerala, said this could apply to crowded outpatient settings.
“A surprising finding was that individuals with underlying fluid and electrolyte disorders had nearly four times the rate of acquiring Covid-19,” he explained.
This study highlighted the need for stringent measures (triaging, testing, masking) to prevent the in-hospital spread of the fast-spreading XBB.1.16 subvariant, which could alter the outcomes among the most vulnerable.