63% had symptomatic COVID, 22% have had multiple times Covid Re-infection: Survey

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Threat of a new COVID variant BA.2.86, nicknamed Pirola, is making waves in several countries across the globe including the USA, UK and China, making more people infected. The new COVID risk is a reminder that compliance to COVID norms must continue when people around us are unwell as the risk of getting re-infected is still there after having recovered from one or more previous infections.

To understand COVID re-infection and its impact a little better, LocalCircles reached out to citizens across the country to know from them firsthand about their experience with COVID in the past 4 years. The survey received over 32,000 responses from citizens located in 319 districts of India. 67% were men while 33% respondents were women. 43% respondents were from tier 1, 36% from tier 2 and 21% respondents were from tier 3, 4 & rural districts.

63% of respondents confirmed having got the COVID infection once or more; and 22% confirmed being impacted with multiple infections

The survey first sought to know the magnitude of COVID reinfections. It asked respondents, “How many times have you been infected with COVID in the last 40 months?” The survey findings show that 34% of respondents got COVID once; 11% got it twice, 7% got it 3 times; 2% got it 4 times and another 2% got COVID 5 times or more. In addition, 7% indicated that though they have had COVID like symptoms, “but never tested so don’t know”; while 5% stated that they have “been lucky” despite some others in the family having got COVID and 32% of respondents stated “not been infected till date”. At an aggregate level, 63% of the respondents indicated being infected with the virus once or more in the last 4 years.

Of the people surveyed who had COVID infection multiple times, a quarter of them had it in 2022 and again in 2023.

The next survey question sought to understand in which year did people get infected and re-infected with COVID. It asked respondents, “If you had multiple COVID infections, what were the years in which you got them?” This survey question received 10,727 responses with 27% in indicating 2022 and 2023 the latest spell; 25% in in 2021 and 2022; and 20% indicated in 2020 and 2022. In addition, 7% of the respondents indicated two bouts of COVID in 2021 and 2023; 7% had three bouts of infection in 2021, 2022, and 2023; another 7% had it in 2020, 2022 and currently in 2023; there is another group of 7% who had COVID multiple times in 2022. In all, of the people surveyed on LocalCircles platform who had COVID infection multiple times, a quarter of them had it in 2022 and again in 2023.

Of those who have had COVID till date, 46% of the respondents claim to have been infected in 2023

Analyzing the data of those who got COVID infections multiple times, 93% had it in 2022 or the third wave; 48% of respondents had it in 2021; In 2020 when it was first detected in India 27% of the respondents got the infection and in the current year 46% of respondents claim to have already been infected. It must be noted here that a large majority of people are not getting RT-PCR tests done to validate COVID and hence these numbers are not reflected in any State or Central Government reported COVID positive data. Government data has been reporting that India has less than 100 cases a day for several months now.

In summary, the survey finds that 63% of the citizens have had one or more COVID infections since 2020 and 22% of them have been impacted with multiple infections. It also learns that 2022 was the year when highest number of Indians contracted COVID followed by 2021 when Beta and Delta variant were active till mid 2021 followed by Omicron which arrived in Dec 2021. It is also noteworthy that of those who have had COVID, 46% of them have stated that they have already contracted it in the first 8 months of the year indicating that while official Government data doesn’t reflect the spread of the COVID virus due to near zero RT-PCR testing, people are still getting infected with it.