As reported by BBC news, England’s vaccination programme is starting to pay off, with the over-80s age group now the most likely to test positive for coronavirus antibodies, Office for National Statistics testing suggests
Blood tests reveal more over-80s than any other age group in England are showing signs of some immunity against COVID infection. This comes as COVID deaths have fallen. But overall, deaths are still 40% above the five-year average.
People have antibodies to COVID if they’ve had an infection in the last few months or if they have been vaccinated. Previously, younger age groups who were more likely to be exposed to the virus were the most likely to test positive for antibodies.
In England, 41% of over-80s tested positive for antibodies, which the ONS said was “most likely due to the high vaccination rate in this group”. Two weeks ago that figure was 26%. It takes two to three weeks for immunity to build after vaccination.
The next most likely to have antibodies against COVID in England were people aged 16-24 years – 26% of this age group had them, due to infection rather than vaccination. This percentage has only increased a small amount in the past fortnight.
In the other three UK nations, which have jabbed a smaller proportion of their older people, antibody detection remained highest in younger groups. Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have not published data for week-on-week comparisons.
Meanwhile, there were 7,820 COVID deaths registered in the UK in the week to 5 February – a fall of more than a tenth from the previous week (9,010). That puts all deaths for any reason 38% higher than the average for the same week over the past five years. This is the first time there has been a real fall in deaths in the ONS data since the last lockdown, although it refers to a fortnight ago. The government figures published each day already show significant falls in deaths.
Deaths involving COVID accounted for 43% of all mortality in England and Wales in the week to 5 February. This means a doctor has judged it to be a factor and written it on a patient’s death certificate. For 90% of these deaths, COVID was the main underlying cause.