Covid: Nine in 10 adults across most parts of UK have coronavirus antibodies, study suggests

Credit: PA

Nine in 10 adults in most parts of the UK are now likely to have some immunity against Covid-19, new figures suggest as England prepares to end most restrictions on daily life.

Wales has the highest levels of coronavirus protection with 91.8% of adults estimated to have coronavirus antibodies in their bloodstream.

England comes next with 89.8% of adults, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimates, and 87.2% in Northern Ireland.

The presence of Covid antibodies in someone's blood suggests they have had the infection in the past or received at least one dose of a vaccine.

In Scotland the estimate is lower and is closer to eight in 10 adults or 84.7%.

It takes between two and three weeks after infection or vaccination for the body to make enough antibodies to fight the virus.

Credit: PA

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 from the ONS and are based on a sample of blood test results for the week beginning June 14.

The estimates are for people in 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%.

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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%.

Due to the success of the vaccine roll out Boris Johnson announced on Monday that nearly all restrictions in England will come to an end on July 19, including the wearing of face coverings in public and the scrapping of capacity limits at all but the largest venues.

Self-isolation rules for under-18s and the double-jabbed will stop from August 16.

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".

Lockdown rules in England: What's changing from July 19

What has happened to social distancing and the rule of six?

The 'one metre plus' rule has been scrapped entirely, as of July 19 in England. However, some guidance to maintain social distancing in certain situations will remain in place of the legal restrictions.

Social distancing guidance will continue if someone is Covid positive and self-isolating, or in airports, or other ports of entry, to avoid travellers arriving from amber or red-list countries mixing with those from green list areas.

Limits on social contact in England have disappeared, meaning the end of the rule of six indoors and the limit of 30 people for outdoor gatherings.

Do I still need to wear a face mask?

There is now no legal requirements to wear face coverings - but guidance still encourages using masks in some settings, including hospitals, healthcare settings and in crowded enclosed public spaces.

Has the working from home guidance changed?

The guidance on working from home has gone. It's ultimately down to employers to decide whether to keep staff at home or in the office, but the government say employers are able to plan the return of staff to the workplace.

What about weddings and funerals?

The current limits on numbers of people who can attend weddings, funerals and other life events has ended.

What's happening in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland?

The changes to Covid rules announced by Boris Johnson, only impact England and will not change regulations in Northern Ireland, Wales or Scotland.

The Welsh Government “would like to move together” with other parts of the UK in lifting coronavirus restrictions but will only do so if it is “right for Wales”, health minister Eluned Morgan said on Monday 5 July.

As of July 19, restrictions in Scotland have eased, with all areas of the country moving to level 0. The government is aiming to lift all major restrictions in Scotland by August 9.

In Northern Ireland, some significant restrictions have already been eased including allowing the resumption of live music and the lifting of caps on organised outdoor gatherings.

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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.

The UK reported 28,773 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, with cases up almost 50% in the last seven days.

Hospitalisations and deaths are also on the climb, with both up over 20% in the past seven days.