The latest ONS Covid antibody figures show the number of people with a higher level of antibodies (800 ng/ml) is falling swiftly. ‘The Government must ensure its autumn top-up vaccine programme for over-50s starts as soon as possible and consider extending the jab to all UK adults,’ says the expert.
New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that the number of people with higher Covid-19 antibodies is falling rapidly. The estimated percentage of the population with an antibody level of at least 800 ng/ml slipped from a peak of 82.4% in March to 71.9% by mid-July.
The leading testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, chief scientific officer at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘This dramatic 12.7% decrease in the number of people in England with a significant number of antibodies to Covid is concerning.’
‘We already know the latest Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants are the most contagious yet and remain a potentially considerable threat to our health. The UK population must retain many antibodies during the dangerous winter months.’
‘As late as mid-April, over 80% of adults retained antibody levels of 800 ng/ml. Now it is likely to be less than 70%. 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.’
‘These figures are for England, but it’s a similar story for the rest of the UK.
- In Northern Ireland, 84.5% of the population had antibody levels of 800 ng/ml in March this year, falling to 70% by July.
- In Wales, 83.9% of people had antibody levels of 800 ng/ml in March, dropping to 71.7 by July.
- Scotland saw a peak of 78.9% of its population with antibody levels of 800 ng/ml in March, collapsing to 72.3% by July.
‘The good news is that the UK’s baseline antibody level of at least 179 ng/ml, determined at the height of the Delta variant, has held firm. In all, 97.8% of people in England had antibody levels of 179 ng/ml in mid-March, which had fallen only fractionally, to 96.3% by mid-July.’
‘However, this fall in the number of people with significant antibody levels cannot be ignored. The ONS states that the 800 ng/ml level is not based on academic research on protection against Omicron, as sufficient evidence on this is not yet available.’
‘However, almost all scientists and doctors agree that the higher the antibodies you have, the more you are protected against catching the virus, particularly in developing a severe illness.’
‘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 antibodies are important to neutralise the virus, stopping infection and limiting people from transmitting the virus to others.’
‘If anyone is concerned about their immune response to the jabs and how well they continue to produce antibodies, the new generation blood tests available from London Medical Laboratory are highly accurate, quick and simple to carry out, either at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test across London and nationwide.’