Smokers and vegetarians were found to have lower seropositivity indicating that they may be at a lesser risk of getting infected by coronavirus, according to a pan-India serosurvey conducted by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The survey was conducted across CSIR’s nearly 40 institutes.

The survey also found that those with blood group ‘O’ may be less susceptible to the infection, while people with ‘B’ and ‘AB’ blood groups were at a higher risk.

In order to assess the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the Scientific and Industrial Research Council (CSIR) took samples of 10,427 adult individuals working in its laboratories or institutions and their family members on the basis of voluntary participation.

The CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi study recorded that of the 10,427 individuals, 1,058 (10.14 percent) had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2.

In July last year, the Ministry of Health of the Union reported that smokers were likely to be more vulnerable to Covid-19, as smoking increases the risk of virus transmission from hand to mouth, and cautioned that smoking tobacco products may increase the severity of respiratory infections and render people susceptible to coronavirus.

However, the study suggested that smokers are less likely to be seropositive and despite Covid-19 being a respiratory disease, smoking may be protective.

“The study found that higher seropositivity was found for those using public transport and with occupational responsibilities such as security, housekeeping personnel, non-smokers, and non-vegetarians.”

“Use of private transport, lower-exposure occupations, smoking, vegetarianism, and ‘A’ or ‘O’ blood groups appeared to be protective, using seropositivity as a surrogate for infection,” the paper added.

Shantanu Sengupta, senior scientist at IGIB and one of the co-authors of the paper said this is for the first time that a study has been conducted in India wherein individuals have been monitored for three months (35 individuals) to six months (346 individuals) for antibodies including those with probable neutralising activity.

The CSIR has some 40 institutes covering the length and the breadth of the country and each specialises in different fields. The IGIB and its sister institute Centre of Cellular and Molecular Biology have been at the forefront in conducting the genome sequencing of coronavirus.

(With inputs from PTI)

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