Open primary schools first as kids handle infection better, says ICMR

At the latest health ministry briefing, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has stated that it would be prudent to open primary schools first as kids fare better with COVID-19 infections.

ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava said at the briefing, “We know clearly that children can handle viral infections much better than adults. Antibody exposure is also similar in children as adults. Some Scandinavian countries didn’t shut their primary schools in any COVID waves.”

The ICMR explained that children are more adept at handling viral infection due to the presence of lower number of ace receptors in their bodies compared to adults. “So once the decision is taken and all the staff vaccinated, it would be wise to open primary schools first,” the medical research body said.

The ICMR, however, stressed that teachers and staff must be vaccinated.

As the same briefing, ICMR also released the findings from its 4th national serosurvey. As per the survey, two-thirds (67.6 percent) of the population on India aged above six years have COVID-19 antibodies. On the other hand, it showed that around 40 crore Indians are still vulnerable to the viral infection.

The government said that while the serosurvey findings showed hope, there can’t be any room for complacency and following COVID-appropriate behaviour is a must.

The 4th national serosurvey was conducted by ICMR in June and July.

Among healthcare workers, 85 percent of those surveyed had antibodies while 10 percent were still not vaccinated.

The government asserted that people should travel only if fully vaccinated. It also urged people to avoid social, religious and political gatherings and travel only when essential.

India recorded its lowest new caseload in 125 days on Monday, July 19, with 30,093 new infections. Active cases are down to 4,06,130, which is the lowest in 117 days.