Episode 112: Did We Go Too Far With Sero-surveys?

Hello and welcome to The Moving Curve. I’m Rukmini, a data journalist based in Chennai. Two nights a week on this mini-cast, I consider one question around the novel coronavirus epidemic in India. Tonight I’m considering this one: did we go too far with sero-surveys?

Dr Anup Malani’s bio is here and his Twitter is here.

IDFC Institute is here.

The Mumbai sero-surveys are here and here.

The Pune sero-survey is here.

The Bihar migrant random testing is here.

The Andhra Pradesh survey is here.

The Karnataka survey is here.

The Tamil Nadu survey is here.

The Manaus January 2021 paper is here.

The Maharashtra numbers should make us question our assumptions about what sero-surveys were showing, including our assumptions about how much immunity the antibodies that were being picked up could really confer, how long-lasting this immunity might be, and how it might work against newer variants. By October and November, I think I felt like I could see where the pandemic was going — what its end game was, so to speak. Once again, I find those assumptions challenged. The only way to know more will be through more data — more sero-surveys, more studies of the durability of the immunity conferred by antibodies, more genomic surveillance and more lab studies of the efficacy of vaccine candidates against new variants.

Thank you for listening. This episode was edited by Anand Krishnamoorthi. The next time — a special one-year anniversary episode.

I am a data journalist based in Chennai, India.