Herd immunity to COVID-19 may be developing in Mumbai slums, where nearly 60% of people have antibodies

by Laura Mize · Jul 29th, 2020 3:42 pm
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Last Updated Jul 29th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

A prominent epidemiologist in India has suggested that residents of Mumbai who "want a safe place to avoid infection ... should probably go" to the city's slums.

Dr. Jayaprakash Muliyil, who leads the Scientific Advisory Committee for the country's Institute of Epidemiology, made the remark in light of July serology data that show about 57% of people tested in three of the city's large slums have antibodies to the novel coronavirus. When 60% of a population has acquired a virus, scientists consider that population to have achieved herd immunity.

In non-slum areas of the city, only about 16% of people tested positive for coronavirus antibodies.

The July study tested nearly 7,000 people living in the densely populated slums, where social distancing is impossible. Although diagnoses of coronavirus are surging across India, Mumbai's slums have seen a sharp decrease in new cases recently.

One of the slums, which is thought to be home to about 1 million people, has only 253 recorded deaths, Bloomberg reports.

Muliyil says the government has done a good job tracking cases and providing care to infected people, which has helped to keep the slums' death rates lower than predicted.


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