More than a THIRD of people across England have coronavirus antibodies

More than a THIRD of people in England now have Covid antibodies as official data shows 75% of over-80s now have some immunity against the disease because of vaccine roll-out

  • Office for National Statistics data up to March 3 show 34.6% of people in England have Covid antibodies 
  • The proportion has jumped 77 per cent from the previous month thanks to the successful vaccine roll-out 
  • North West of England had the highest proportion of people with antibodies, with a total of 2.3million 

More than a third of all adults in England now have coronavirus antibodies, according to official data that lays bare the success of the nation’s mammoth vaccination drive. 

Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show an estimated 34.6 per cent of people in England tested positive for the disease-fighting proteins at the start of March. 

The report — based on random blood testing of around 30,000 adults — also showed three-quarters of over-80s had some immunity against the killer infection at the start of the month. But the figure is likely to be even higher now because millions more have been vaccinated since the testing was conducted last month, and it takes about two weeks for the vaccines to kick in.

Antibodies are made by the immune system in response to falling ill or being vaccinated. Their presence in blood generally means someone has some at least some protection against a disease and won’t fall ill.  

But they are not the only part of the immune system. And they are known to fade over time, meaning many people who caught the virus in the first wave — and would, therefore, have some form of protection — no longer have measurable levels of the proteins. 

Data also showed a dramatic rise in antibody prevalence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — but the ONS warned its estimates in the devolved nations were not as certain because they involved smaller sample sizes.   

Antibodies also take weeks to develop, so the latest ONS data only offers a clear indication for the proportion of people who were vaccinated or had the disease in mid-February.

Only the first four priority groups — care home residents, frontline NHS and social care workers, over-70s and the clinically extremely vulnerable people — had been offered a first dose by February 15. Since then nearly 10million more people in the UK have had a jab.  

More than a third of all adults in England currently have coronavirus antibodies, with the proportion jumping 77 per cent from the previous month, Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests

The ONS data released today shows that the North West of England had the highest proportion of people with antibodies, with a total of 2.3million estimated to have the proteins (39.4 per cent).

It was followed by London (37.8 per cent), the West Midlands (36.8 per cent), the East Midlands (35.3 per cent) and the North East (35.2 per cent).

The South West of England was the only area of the country to have an antibody prevalence rate of fewer than 30 per cent. It was lower than both Northern Ireland (31.2 per cent) and Wales (30.5 per cent).

Scotland dragged significantly behind the pack, with just 22.3 per cent of people estimated to have the proteins. 

But the figures had jumped by nearly double since the previous month (11.8 per cent), following the same trend as across the four nations.  

In England, the proportion of over-80s with antibodies (75.7 per cent) was followed by 75- to 79-year-olds at 68.8 per cent.

Rates were fairly even in all other groups — but appeared to be the highest among 16- to 24-year-olds, according to the data.

The group had higher antibody levels (32 per cent) in England and Northern Ireland than any of the age groups up to 70 years old. The trend was the same in Scotland, but overall levels remained lower. 

More women than men have antibodies in all four nations of the UK, although the difference was lower in Northern Ireland.

The ONS said: ‘Possible reasons for these differences are that there are more females in occupation groups prioritised for vaccine, more females work in roles that may have exposed them to previous infection (such as personal caring services) or a biological reason (other found that antibody responses to seasonal influenza vaccines are consistently at least twice as strong in females than males).’

The ONS figures only looked at people in private homes and did not take into account patients in hospital or any residents in care homes. 

Weekly Covid deaths in England and Wales have nearly HALVED in a fortnight to 2,100 as fatalities drop to lowest levels since before second wave took off in November 

Weekly Covid deaths have almost halved in a fortnight and dropped to their lowest levels since before the second wave took off in the autumn, official figures revealed today.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed 2,105 fatalities were linked to the virus in England and Wales over the seven days to March 5 — a 48 per cent dip on the 4,079 in the week ending February 19.

This was the lowest number of Covid deaths since the first week of November, when England was plunged into a second national lockdown to curb the then-spiralling outbreak. For comparison, weekly deaths surpassed 8,000 during the darkest part of the second wave in January. 

Coronavirus deaths among care home residents — who were first to be vaccinated — have also almost halved in a fortnight, dropping from 969 to 467.

But deaths from all causes — including dementia, heart disease and Covid — remained almost four per cent above the average for this time of year or 409 fatalities, suggesting the virus was still adding to the toll.

Additionally, the number of victims linked to flu and pneumonia was above those linked to Covid for the first time in 2021. But it was listed as the underlying cause of death for fewer than a fifth of those that had the virus in this category.

The Department of Health publishes a daily Covid death toll which has already shown a sharper dip in fatalities. 

But the figures from statisticians at the ONS lag behind by about two weeks because they are asked to go through every death certificate to pick out all those mentioning the virus, alongside fatalities from other causes.

It comes after a separate analysis revealed the deadliest day of the pandemic took place in the second wave, after 1,463 fatalities linked to the virus were confirmed on January 19. For comparison, in the first wave Covid deaths hit a height of 1,459 fatalities on April 8 before starting to drop.

Covid deaths have halved over the two weeks to March 5, ONS figures show. There were 2,105 fatalities linked to the virus in the week to March 5, the latest available, but more than 4,000 two weeks beforehand

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