Covid vaccine impact revealed in over-80s blood tests
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.
Protection in the blood
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.
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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.
Falls in deaths are likely due to lockdown, but rising antibody levels offer hope of even better news to come.
These figures cover deaths registered in the first week of February, probably reflecting infections early in January.
Back then, far fewer people had been vaccinated and, since it takes few weeks for the jab to yield antibodies, even fewer had been vaccinated early enough to get protection from Covid-19.
So lockdown was probably doing the heavy lifting.
Since the first week of February, the news has improved further. Back then, the daily death toll was just under 1,000 a day. Now it’s down to around 650.
And there are hints, but only hints, that vaccination is starting to take some of the strain.
More and more people, especially over 80, are showing antibodies – a quarter by the middle of January and 40% by the start of February.
That figure will only rise. And some analyses suggest that deaths are falling fastest in older people.
Even it’s too soon to be sure that’s a vaccination effect, it’s not too soon to be hopeful that it might be.
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.
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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.
Published at Tue, 16 Feb 2021 12:11:52 +0000