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Covid antibodies in nearly 92% of adults; UK edges closer to h antibody levels in aherd immunity as adults exceed 90%.

Byline: IAN JONES and RUTH MOSALSKI newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk

MORE than nine in 10 adults in Wales are now likely to have Covid-19 antibodies, new figures suggest.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures found 91.8% of adults in Wales now have the antibodies, compared to 87.2% in Northern Ireland, 89.8% in England and 84.7% in Scotland, bringing the UK closer to socalled herd immunity.

The presence of coronavirus antibodies suggests someone has had the infection in the past or has been vaccinated. It takes between two and three weeks after infection or vaccination for the body to make enough antibodies to fight the virus.

Antibodies then remain in the blood at low levels, although these levels can decline over time to the point that tests can no longer detect them.

The latest estimates are based on a sample of blood test results for the week beginning June 14.

The estimates are for people in >>>> turn to page 6 >> from page 1 private households and do not include settings such as hospitals and care homes.

In England, the latest estimate of 89.8% adults is up from 79.6% a month ago, while in Wales the estimate of 91.8% is up from 82.1%.

For Scotland the estimate is up month on month from 71.8% to 84.7%, and for Northern Ireland it is up from 80.0% to 87.2%.

The ONS said there is a clear pattern between vaccination and testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies but "the detection of antibodies alone is not a precise measure of the immunity protection given by vaccination".

Once infected or vaccinated, the length of time antibodies remain at detectable levels in the blood is not fully known.

It is also not yet known how having detectable antibodies, now or at some time in the past, affects the chance of getting Covid-19 again.

In Wales, the highest proportion of adults likely to have tested positive for antibodies was the 70 to 74 age group (98.2%), while in Scotland the highest percentage was for people aged 65 to 69 (96.8%).

Across England as a whole, the highest percentage of adults testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies were estimated to be the age groups 60 to 64, 70 to 74 and 75 to 79 (all 96.8%).

The lowest percentage was for 16 to 24-year-olds (59.7%).

in Northern Ireland, the oNS uses different age groups due to small sample sizes, and estimates that 96.9% of people aged 50 to 69 were likely to have tested positive for antibodies in the week beginning June 14.

Commenting on the figures, Meaghan Kall, lead epidemiologist in Covid-19 epidemiology cell at Public Health England, told the Independent the antibody data suggested those aged 25 and over were "very close to herd immunity" through vaccination and previous infection.

However, the latest figures are only for adults.

Many experts believe to reach the herd immunity benchmark, teenagers will also need to fully vaccinated,

Speaking to Sky News earlier this month, Professor Jeffrey Almond said: "At the start of this we reckoned that you needed somewhere around 65% to 70% of the whole population to be immune in order to have that herd immunity which prevents the virus spreading. Because, with 80% of the adult population (vaccinated), if that only represents 50% of the whole population, we're still too low to prevent the virus spreading and it will spread in kids.

"So, I'm in favour, if we can and when we can, of vaccinating children as well so that the whole population is immune to the point where the virus can no longer circulate."

Meanwhile, coronavirus infection rates are three times lower for those who have had two vaccine doses, new research has shown.

In people aged 64 or younger, the prevalence of infection among those who had received two doses of vaccine was 0.35% compared with 1.15% among those who had not received any vaccine.

Public Health England data shows having both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine can reduce symptomatic infection by almost 80%.

Wales' infection rate has risen to 109.6 cases per 100,000 population based on the seven days between June 26 and July 2 - up on 103.2 on Tuesday.

The new data, covering the period of June 24 to July 5, also shows that infections in England have increased fourfold from 0.15% to 0.59% since the last REACT-1 report, which covered May 20 to June 7.

The data shows that 1 in 170 people are infected and a recent doubling time of six days.

More than 47,000 volunteers returned PCR tests in England between June 24 and July 5 to examine the levels of Covid-19 in the general population via the REACT-1, one of the country's largest studies into Covid-19 infections.

There have been substantial increases in all age groups under the age of 75 years, and especially at younger ages, with the highest prevalence for 13 to 17 years and 18 to 24 years. Infections have increased in all regions with the largest increase in London.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the REACT programme from Imperial's School of Public Health, said: "In spite of the successful rollout of the vaccination programme, we are still seeing rapid growth in infections, especially among younger people.

"However, it is encouraging to see lower infection prevalence in people who have had both doses of a vaccine. It is therefore essential that as many people as possible take up both vaccine doses when offered."

" Kelly Beaver, managing director, public afairs at Ipsos MORI said: "It looks very likely that the prevalence of Covid-19 will continue to rise as the country is unlocked further, but there are encouraging signs that the vaccine programme is working.

"These findings reiterate the importance of getting vaccinated. We are very grateful to all the research participants across England for their contribution to this study."

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid admitted cases will "inevitably" rise as the UK Government eases England's restrictions.

On Monday the UK Government confirmed all current legal limits on social interactions and restrictions on large events, performances and life events will be lifted on July 19 in England.

Face coverings will also no longer be mandatory indoors across the border although guidance will suggest where people might choose to wear one.

Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "It is hugely encouraging to see the vaccination rollout is having a significant impact on stopping the spread of the virus. Almost two thirds of adults - 64% - have had both doses, and so have got the fullest protection on offer.

"I urge everyone to get their first and second dose when invited, as every jab helps to curb transmission and serious illness.

""he small number of people who are double jabbed and experience symptoms should continue to get tested so we all play our part to stop the spread of this awful virus."

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Author:IAN JONES and RUTH MOSALSKI newsdesk@walesonline.co.uk
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 8, 2021
Words:1158
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