Covid: Over 80s have highest share of antibodies as vaccine rollout shows impact

Roughly two in five people tested in the 80 and over age group were found to have coronavirus antibodies. Credit: PA

The highest percentage of people in England testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies are in the 80 and over age group, while positivity rates have risen across all four nations.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS), which conducted the survey, has suggested that the increase in antibodies is an effect of the vaccination rollout and the high levels of infection seen in recent months.

Having antibodies in the blood indicates that people have either previously been infected with the virus or have had a Covid-19 vaccine.

From the 28 days up to 1 February, roughly two in five people tested in the 80 and over age group were found to have coronavirus antibodies.

“In England, those aged 80 and over currently have the highest percentage of antibody positivity, most likely due to the high vaccination rate in thisgroup," Esther Sutherland, Principal Statistician for the survey said.

Estimated percentage of people testing positive for antibodies in England, by age

  • 16 to 24 - 25.9%

  • 25 to 34 - 20%

  • 35 to 49 - 17.7%

  • 50 to 69 - 15.9%

  • 70 to 74 - 10.5 %

  • 75 to 79 - 40.9%

In Wales and Scotland, those aged 16 to 24-years-old have the highest percentage of antibodies. 25 to 34-year-olds have the highest share in Northern Ireland.

"We would expect younger groups to have high levels of antibody positivity after the period of high infection rates we have seen in the last few months," Ms Sutherland said.

Local authorities may encourage people to wear masks again, Calum Semple suggests Credit: Yui Mok/PA

The number of people who have antibodies for the virus which causes Covid-19 has increased across all four UK nations.

In England as a whole, an estimated one in five adults would have tested positive for antibodies against the virus on a blood test.

This compares to one in seven in Wales and Northern Ireland and an estimated one in nine in Scotland.

Estimated percentage of population aged over 16 with antibodies

  • England - 18.5%

  • Wales - 14.4%

  • Northern Ireland -13.6%

  • Scotland - 11.7%

The increasing number of people with antibodies reflect the effect of the vaccine programme

The ONS said that there was “substantial variation” in antibody positivity between regions in England.

In London almost one in four people are estimated to have antibodies (24.8%) compared to almost one in eight in the south west (11.6%).

  • Listen to ITV News' coronavirus podcast here