Islamabad          -          Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) referring to fresh health survey conducted claimed that a study indicated that 11 per cent Pakistanis have developed immunity for COVID-19, increased use of mask, hand washing helping prevent disease spread.  

Statement released by the Ministry said that National Seroprevalence Study indicates 11 per cent Pakistanis have developed immunity for COVID-19, increased use of mask, handwashing helping prevent disease spread It said that Pakistan is coping well with challenges posed by COVID-19.

In addition to multiple other initiatives taken by the Government of Pakistan, a national seroprevalence study was initiated in July this year by Health Services Academy in collaboration with multiple partners including AKU and with technical support from World Health Organisation.

The study was part of the WHO Unity Study also being conducted simultaneously in 25 other countries, said a statement issued here on Friday by the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

Seroprevalence studies are carried out with an objective to assess as to what percentage of population has developed protective immunity (antibodies) to the virus.

It was estimated that almost 11% of Pakistanis have developed protective immunity across Pakistan. It means that every 10th Pakistani has developed antibodies in their blood against Covid-19 virus.

The seropositivity was more in urban areas compared to rural areas, similarly those who had contact with Covid positive person were more likely to have antibodies in their blood. It was more common in young adults and significantly less in children and older adults.

The finding corroborates with other studies conducted elsewhere and identifies the older individuals at highest risk from possible second wave. It was also found out in the study that the use of mask and frequent handwashing in the month of July was upto approximately 60 per cent and 70 per cent of population respectively.

This finding underscores the importance and success of the awareness campaigns carried out in earlier months.

The findings of the study suggest that areas with lower immunity rates may be at higher risk for future outbreaks.

Hence there is a need to for enhanced sentinel site surveillance and ramping up of health facilities for covid treatment particularly in rural districts.

While further data analysis is being carried out the experts proposed conducting regular seroprevalence surveys to map the evolving spread & exposure to COVID-19 and perform pooled data analysis (combining data from other such studies) conducted in Pakistan for a more in-depth analysis. The findings of the study will be used for policy decisions in times to come.