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ONS figures show rapid decrease in people with higher COVID-19 antibody figures

Published on 12/08/22 at 10:13am

The amount of UK residents with higher levels of COVID-19 antibodies is falling, ONS statistics show. Experts have since highlighted the importance of prioritising a winter booster top-up for over-50s, with a look to offer it to all UK adults.

It was estimated that the percentage of the population with a COVID-19 antibody level of at least 800 ng/ml fell from a peak of 82.4% in March, to 71.9% by mid-July.

With the rise of new variants such as Omicron and the winter months — a period of stress for the NHS every year — on the horizon, leading testing expert Dr Quinton Fivelman, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, has spoken of the need for a strong booster rollout.

He stated: “The simple truth is that, if this rate of decline continues to accelerate and the first UK adults don’t start receiving their boosters until October, only 60% of the population will retain substantial antibodies by the time they are jabbed.

“One developing concern is that the new Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants do not produce as high an immune response as the previous strains, so re-infection is more likely to occur. Higher levels of antibodies are important to neutralise the virus, stopping infection and limiting people transmitting the virus to others.”

However, the UK’s baseline antibody level of 179 ng/ml, which was determined at the height of the Delta variant, is holding strong. “All 97.8% of people in England had antibody levels of 179 ng/ml in mid-March, and this had fallen only fractionally to 96.3% by mid-July,” Dr Fivelman says.

James Spargo

 

 

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