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expert reaction to the latest fortnightly release on the COVID-19 Infection Survey looking at antibody and vaccination data for the UK, 4 August 2021

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released the latest report from the COVID-19 infection survey, looking at antibody and vaccination data for the UK.


Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, The Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, said:

“Today’s report from the ONS on the prevalence of antibodies is highly reassuring that an estimated 94% of the Adult population in England have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 meaning that the vast majority of British adults have some degree of protection against COVID. This figure coves the date up to the 18th July. Given that it takes about 8-10 days for antibodies to develop after infection or after immunization, this figure is an underestimate and would not take account of any infections or immunizations after the 10th July and so would not include the effect of the big peak of cases that we saw in mid-July.

“Of particular interest is the estimates of antibody prevalence in 16 and 17 year olds. With the last report two weeks ago the prevalence in these ages were 38% and 44.0% respectively. This has now jumped to 50.3 and 58.6% despite only a very small minority of high risk individuals of this age group being vaccinated. Again these figures are not affected by the big surge in infections in this age group during mid-July. Consequently we can expect that over 2/3rds of 16 and 17 years olds to already have been infected and to have developed or are about to develop antibody soon. Although antibody tests are not done on younger children, it is reasonable to assume that the majority of younger teenagers will also have had their initial infection and have some degree of immunity.

“We are hearing reports in the news this morning that vaccine will be offered to 16 and 17 years olds, and this may be the correct option even though most in this age group will already be immune. But these results should reduce the demand to vaccinate even younger teenagers.”


Prof Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said:

“With more than 90% of people testing positive for the presence of coronavirus antibodies, it’s no wonder we are seeing a decline in cases.

“But we shouldn’t get complacent. The virus hasn’t gone away and it will continue to circulate in future. To limit the extent and potential harm of inevitable future outbreaks it is important to maintain high levels of population immunity, So I would urge everyone who is eligible, to get vaccinated, and for those already jabbed, to get any boosters offered in future.

“There will undoubtedly be a large number of people immune through natural infection, but if natural immunity to this coronavirus is similar to that generated to the seasonal coronaviruses, then it is likely to be short-lived. This is another reason to get fully jabbed.”  



All our previous output on this subject can be seen at this weblink:



Declared interests

Prof Jonathan Ball: “Receiving funding to develop next-generation COVID19 vaccines.”  

None others received.

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