Srinagar Apr 12: With uncertainty about how and when to lift the coronavirus lockdown, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Sunday said mass antibody testing is the key to determine when the lockdown could end.
“Antibody testing will tell us how much of the population is now immune to the novel (new) coronavirus and that would decide lifting of lockdown restrictions,” said DAK President Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“The immune testing, which only requires a drop of blood will enable us to check in minutes the presence of antibodies in person’s blood which indicates that the person had infection and is now immune to the virus,” he said.
“A positive test for antibodies means the person would be able to return to work without the risk of getting infected or spreading the disease,” he added.
Dr Nisar said if enough people have developed antibodies – more than 50 percent, we have achieved herd immunity and the epidemic will fizzle out on its own as the virus will not be able to find a host to spread within the population.
“If we prove we have high level of immunity then we will be able to lift the lockdown sooner,” he said.
Dr Nisar said the current lockdown cannot go forever. At some stage we will have to strike a balance between ensuring public safety and getting the nation running again.
He said in 2009, there was an epidemic of swine flu (H1N1). It came in and stayed for 2 to 3 months and spontaneously disappeared. It went away because of a certain level of herd immunity that was produced.
“We expect that Covid-19 will head that way,” Dr Nisar said.
“Sudden end to all confinement measures at this point of time would risk exposing untold number of people to the virus. This would lead to second wave of infection that would do away all the good work that has been done so far,” he said.
“Key to preventing a second wave of infection is sequential and differential containment. This is important because the peak of the epidemic is not going to happen everywhere at the same time, as the virus spreads differently in different regions,” said Dr Nisar.