New Delhi, Jun 17: The SARS-CoV-2 sero-positivity rate among children is high and comparable to the adult population and hence, it is unlikely that any future third wave of the prevailing COVID-19 variant would disproportionately affect children aged two years and above, according to the interim findings of an ongoing study conducted in the country.

The interim findings that have appeared on medRxiv, a pre-print server, are based on a mid-term analysis of the data of the 4,509 participants -- 700 children in the 2-17 years age group and 3,809 aged 18 years and above -- from five states.

The data collection period was from March 15 to June 10 from five sites -- Delhi Urban Resettlement Colony, Delhi Rural (villages in Faridabad district of Haryana under Delhi-NCR), Bhubaneswar Rural, Gorakhpur rural and Agartala rural.

The findings are part of an ongoing multi-centric, population-based, age-stratified prospective COVID-19 sero-prevalence study under WHO (World Health Organization) Unity studies conducted by experts, including doctors from the AIIMS -- Director Randeep Guleria and Professors from the Department of Centre for Community Medicine Puneet Misra, Shashi Kant and Sanjay K Rai -- in the five selected states with a proposed total sample size of 10,000.

"The seroprevalence was 55.7 per cent in the below 18 years age group and 63.5 per cent in the above 18 years age group. There was no statistically significant difference in prevalence between adult and children," the findings stated.

The site-wise numbers of available data among the 2-17 age group were 92, 189, 165, 146 and 108 for Delhi Urban Resettlement Colony, Delhi Rural, Bhubaneswar Rural, Gorakhpur Rural and Agartala Rural respectively.

The total serum antibody against the SARS-CoV-2 virus was assessed qualitatively by using a standard ELISA kit.

The study findings come amid concerns raised in the country regarding a probable third wave of COVID-19 where children and youngsters are likely to get affected the most.

Irrespective of the age group, rural sites had a lower sero-positivity rate compared to the urban site (in Delhi). Within the rural sites, children had a slightly lower sero-positivity rate compared to adults. However, this differential prevalence was not observed in the urban site, according to the findings.

"There was a slightly higher sero-positivity rate observed among female children. This finding was in contrast to the meta-analysis where it was shown that the prevalence is higher in men. This may be a chance finding due to small number of data available at the time of mid-term analysis," the study stated.

The higher seropositivity rate in children aged 10-17 years may be reflective of their higher mobility and independence compared to the younger children.

As reported in the literature, a large proportion of children (50.9 per cent) had asymptomatic COVID-19 infection.

In India, the sero-prevalence among children and youngsters was estimated as a part of a larger nationwide survey on adults. The second nationwide sero-prevalence study done in August-September 2020 had reported a nine per cent seropositivity among 3,021 children aged 10-17 years while according to this study, it is 60.3 per cent.

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Bolpur (WB)(PTI): Senior Trinamool Congress leader Anubrata Mondal was Thursday arrested by the CBI from his residence here in connection with a cattle smuggling case, after twice skipping his scheduled appearance before the central probe agency in three days, an official said.

The CBI served a notice to Mondal under Section 41 of CrPC before arresting him for allegedly not cooperating in its probe into the scam, he said.

Earlier in the day, a CBI team comprising at least eight officers along with personnel of central forces reached the Birbhum district president's residence around 10 am, and conducted a search operation, as part of the investigation.

Mondal was grilled in a room on the second floor of his residence for almost an hour, the official said.

"We have arrested him for non-cooperation in the investigation into the cattle smuggling case. We have found Mr Mondal's direct involvement in the scam. We will question him today and take necessary action as per law," he told PTI.

Mondal had skipped his scheduled appearance on Monday and Wednesday, citing ill-health.

The official said the CBI would also question the doctor of a Bolpur hospital who had prescribed Mondal bed rest for 14 days.

Sleuths of the probe agency are conducting raids at residences of several close associates of the TMC leader as well, the official added.

Mondal's arrest comes close on the heels of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) apprehending now-suspended TMC leader and former Bengal minister Partha Chatterjee in a school jobs scam.

Meanwhile, the ruling TMC said the party was keeping a close watch on the situation.

"The party will take an appropriate decision at the right time. But, we want to make it clear that TMC will not compromise on any instance of corruption," MP Santanu Sen said.

Sen added that the party has "zero tolerance" on corruption and wrongdoings.

The top TMC leadership will likely meet in the evening to take a call on the issue.

Opposition BJP alleged that Mondal's arrest proves the ruling party was neck-deep in corruption, and demanded a statement from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

"It is time the CM comes out with a statement on the arrest of Mondal. We all know he was close to the top TMC leadership," BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh said.

"The arrest of Chatterjee and now Mondal is an example of the much-hyped Bengal development model, BJP state president Sukanta Majumdar said.

CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty claimed that Mondal considered himself above the law in Birbhum district and the TMC leadership turned a blind eye to his misdeeds.