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Dynamic Containment Zones, Small Sample Size: ICMR on Not Including Data in First Serosurvey Study Paper

A health worker collects a sample from a migrant worker who returned to Delhi. (Reuters/file)

A health worker collects a sample from a migrant worker who returned to Delhi. (Reuters/file)

His remarks come in the backdrop of media reports claiming that health researchers were not allowed to include data from containment zones in 10 hotspot cities in the first national serosurvey study paper published recently in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR).

Findings from containment zones in 10 hotspot cities were not included in the first national serosurvey study paper published recently as the sample size was very small and the zones are "dynamic and change from day to day and week to week", ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava said on Tuesday. His remarks come in the backdrop of media reports claiming that health researchers, apparently under instructions from senior ICMR officials, were not allowed to include data from containment zones in 10 hotspot cities in the first national serosurvey study paper published recently in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR).

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had on Sunday said that the findings of the previous serosurvey from the dynamic containment zones in ten cities to assess the extent of COVID-19 transmission in those areas have been communicated to the states for further action. At a press briefing on Tuesday, Bhargava, while replying to a query, said the first and second national serosurvey had a national representative to estimate the burden, and the sampling was done for that.

"The part that was not included in the publication was (on) the containment zones which are very dynamic. They change from day to day and week to week. "Also a very small sample size was done in the containment zones and the purpose of that was served by igniting the spirit of serosurveys in those larger cities and that was the purpose of doing these in the containment zones and that was effectively done," he said.

He cited the example of Delhi where three serosurveys were carried out in June, July and August end with results of 22 per cent, 27 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively. "So that was the purpose and once you estimate the statistical size, this will not be accepted in a publication if you add a little bit of data from a containment zone in that paper," he said.

The apex health research body had tweeted on Sunday it has been continuously communicating with the respective state authorities and the findings of the previous survey from the dynamic containment zones were communicated to the states for further action. "The second round of countrywide serosurvey led by ICMR has been successfully completed. The final phase analysis of the survey is now underway and will offer a comparison with the results of the first survey," it said in another tweet.

To further aid in developing state intervention plans, following the ICMR survey, states have also conducted their zone/city-specific surveys, the ICMR said.


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