A study on the coronavirus situation in Dhaka that found the existence of antibodies in a large per centage of the test subjects does not represent the capital city as a whole, the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research has said.
In a notice issued on Tuesday, the IEDCR requested the media not to spread ‘confusion’ regarding the study's findings, reports bdnews24.com.
The study, commissioned by the government's disease control agency, was conducted between April 18 and July 5 by the icddr,b in collaboration with USAID.
The data showed that 45 per cent of participants in Dhaka were infected with the coronavirus until until the cut-off point and they developed antibodies in the process.
The findings were revealed at a seminar on the emergence and spread of COVID-19 in Dhaka at a hotel in the capital's Gulshan on Oct 12.
The virus was detected in the samples of 12,699 people living in the 25 wards of Dhaka, equating to an infection rate of 9.8 per cent, according to the researchers.
About 45 per cent of the city dwellers have developed antibodies to the coronavirus, with the rate climbing to 74 per cent among slum-dwellers, according to the study done using 817 samples.
The data was construed to have taken into account the entire population of the city, with media reports indicating that at least half the population of the capital had contracted the novel coronavirus.
The World Health Organization also believes that one in every 10 people globally to be infected with the novel coronavirus based on similar studies, Dr Meerjady Sabrina Flora, additional director of DGHS said at the seminar.
"The information carries a lot of importance. The information that had been given so far was based on the data of those who came to get tested. We didn't have any information on those who were at home," she said.
"This survey reveals the extent to which the infection has spread. According to the World Health Organisation, one in every ten people is infected. Our data is close to that at 9.8 per cent. There the picture here is similar to what it is across the world."
The IEDCR never claimed the study represents the entire Dhaka city, it said in a statement signed by its Director Dr Tahmina Shirin on Tuesday.
“Some media outlets mentioned that the survey represents all of Dhaka city, which weakened its scientific basis and created confusion.”
The study cannot be construed as an overall representation of Dhaka, as it was conducted on a small number of people, she explained.
“A wider research with adequate samples to reflect the entire population is needed to get the full picture of the city.”
There are no problems with the data that an infection rate of 9.8 per cent after testing 12,699 samples, explained Dr Mushtuq Husain, advisor to the IEDCR.
But the antibody test was done on only 817 persons, including 692 city residents and 125 slum dwellers, he said.
“A study conducted on 817 people that detected antibodies in them, does not represent the overall picture of the spread of the disease in the city. It is not correct numerologically. We need a wider study for this.”
“The press statement disseminated on Tuesday should have further elaborated on this but that wasn’t done for some reason,” said Dr Husain.
The coronavirus caseload reached 381, 275 as of Tuesday. Many of the infected people remained out of testing net, according to experts.
In many cases, the patients remain asymptomatic but they can be diagnosed through the detection of the antibodies. Experts believe a wider initiative of antibody tests will shed light on the real picture in Dhaka.