40% Indian families have 1 or more members already that have taken the COVID antibody test this year
- ● 1 in 2 families who got an antibody test paid over INR 750
- ● Citizens demand via LocalCircles that Government introduce a price cap for COVID antibody test given the number of people likely to take in in the coming months
September 3, 2021, New Delhi: As more citizens of India have started taking either 1 or both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, there has been a spike in the number of people getting an antibody or serology tests to look out for evidence of their body’s immune response to a past infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 or to measure the effectiveness of the vaccine. Even labs across the country have reported a spike in the number of people, along with those who have been infected previously with the COVID-19, taking an antibody test. In people inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, per medical experts, it takes about 14 days for a human body to develop antibody concentration in the blood. The immune system develops antibodies as soon as it recognises any threats like viruses that harm our body, or even after vaccination. The COVID antibody tests let an individual know if they have them or not, while others give scores that reflect their levels. Though leading scientists caution that the presence of antibodies doesn’t mean that a person is immune to COVID-19, people across the country have been getting these tests in hordes post COVID infection and after taking the jab. Many others who haven’t had the infection are taking them just to check if they have antibodies as SERO surveys indicated that up to 70% of citizens in some cities have had asymptomatic COVID.
Taking cognizance of the spike in the number of people taking the antibody test, LocalCircles has conducted a study to get an idea of the percentage of citizens or their families who have gotten their COVID antibody test this year. It also sought to understand the aggregate amount people are paying to get the antibody test, aimed to understand if there has been overcharging and if the Government should introduce a cap for such a test, especially as many more people may likely take it months after the 2nd dose of vaccine to check antibody levels. The survey received more than 24,000 responses from citizens located across 318 districts of India.
40% families have 1 or more members who have gotten a COVID antibody test done this year
The first question in the survey asked citizens about them or their family’s current status in regards to getting a COVID antibody test done. In response, 15% of citizens said “multiple members got it done multiple times this year”, and 14% said “multiple members got it done once this year”. 2% of citizens said “1 member got it done multiple times this year”, and 9% said “1 member got it done once this year”. The majority of 54% of citizens said “no one has gotten it done once this year”, and 6% couldn’t say. On an aggregate basis, 40% of families have 1 or more members who have gotten a COVID antibody test done this year. This question in the survey received 15,682 responses.
50% of those who got a COVID antibody test done paid over INR 750 for it
The next question asked citizens how much did they or their family paid when they got the COVID antibody test. In response, 29% of citizens said they paid “INR 1000 or more”. There were 21% who said they paid “between INR 750-1000”, 14% paid “between INR 500-750”, and 24% paid “between INR 250-500”. Further, 7% said they paid “less than INR 250”, and 5% couldn’t say. On an aggregate basis, 50% of citizens who got a COVID antibody test done paid over INR 750 for it. This question in the survey received 9,063 responses.
In summary, 40% of families surveyed have 1 or more members who have gotten a COVID antibody test done this year. With antibody tests gaining popularity, it becomes of utmost importance to introduce a uniform rate for labs across the country so that profiteering from antibody tests can be minimized. As found out by the survey, 50% of those who got a COVID antibody test paid over INR 750 for it.
With SERO surveys indicating that 40-70% of citizens in most parts of India may have COIVD antibodies, it is likely that many more citizens will take the antibody test as the risk of a 3rd wave rises in the coming months.
Similarly, months after getting vaccinated, many are likely to get the antibody test to measure the effectiveness of the vaccine over time, especially if a new wave or variants of SARS-COV2 come about. Many people in the community discussions demand that a price cap of INR 300-400 be put on COVID antibody tests as it will minimise profiteering and unfair trade practices.
LocalCircles will share the findings of this study with key stakeholders in the Central Government to implement a price cap on the COVID antibody test. Previously, the price cap demand on COVID vaccine through private healthcare and COVID RT-PCR tests via private labs was raised by citizens via LocalCircles and accepted by the Government of India and various State Governments.
Over 24,000 responses from citizens located across 318 districts of India. 64% of the participants were men while 36% were women. 42% of respondents were from tier 1 districts, 31% from tier 2 and 27% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.