Almost 9 in 10 young adults in UK likely to have Covid antibodies

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest almost 9 in 10 young adults in the UK will now have Covid-19 antibodies

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Almost nine in 10 young adults in the UK are now likely to have Covid-19 antibodies, new figures suggest.

Estimates from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that antibody positivity among 16 to 24-year-olds is “increasing steadily” across all four nations of the UK.

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What do the figures show?

Figures show that among people aged 16 to 24, 88.7% in England and Scotland now carry Covid-19 antibodies.

Similarly high levels are evident in Northern Ireland at 87.2% and 86.9% in Wales.

The figures are based on a sample of blood tests from people in private households from the week beginning 23 August.

The estimates do not include those from hospitals and care home settings.

The presence of antibodies suggests that individuals have either been infected with coronavirus or have been vaccinated.

It takes the body between two and three weeks after being infected or vaccinated to make enough antibodies to fight it.

Antibodies can remain in the blood at low levels, declining overtime where they slowly become undetectable.

In England, the percentage of 16 to 24-year-olds likely to have Covid-19 antibodies has jumped from 60.6% in the week beginning 21 June to 88.7% in the week beginning 23 August.

In Wales the figure increased from 63.4% to 86.9% in the same period, while in Northern Ireland it has increased from 58.7% to 87.2%.

Scotland has also seen a sharp rise from 51.1% to 88.7%.

What has the ONS said?

The ONS has confirmed that antibody positivity among 16 to 24-year-olds is “increasing steadily across all four UK countries” which has coincided with the vaccine rollout to younger people.

Teenagers aged 16 and 17 have been able to get vaccinated for several weeks, with young adults aged 18 or over eligible for the jab since June.

The ONS said there is a clear correlation between testing positive for Covid antibodies and being vaccinated, but stressed that “the detection of antibodies alone is not a precise measure of the immunity protection given by vaccination”.

What are the figures for other age groups?

According to the ONS, the figures for adults in older age groups have levelled off or declined slightly.

The ONS said: “In more recent weeks our estimates suggest those aged 25 to 64 years have similar or slightly higher antibody levels than those aged 65 years and over

“This is in line with vaccinations for many of those in younger age groups occurring more recently.”

In England, an estimated 91.5% of people aged 80 and over were likely to have Covid-19 antibodies in the week beginning 23 August, down from 93.7% two months earlier.

In Wales the proportion has dropped from 91.5% to 82.0%, while in Scotland it is down from 88.0% to 85.9%.

For Northern Ireland, the estimate for people aged 70 and over has fallen from 93.4% to 87.4%.

In the most recent week, 93.6% of the adult population in England was likely to have tested positive for Covid antibodies, along with 91.2% in Wales, 93.3% in Scotland and 91.9% in Northern Ireland.

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