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Antibodies against coronavirus (COVID-19)


The presence of antibodies to COVID-19 suggests that a person has previously had the infection or been vaccinated. In the week beginning 20 December 2021, the percentage of adults that would have tested positive for antibodies is estimated to be:  

  • 97.5% in England 

  • 96.8% in Wales 

  • 97.4% in Northern Ireland 

  • 97.7% in Scotland

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Antibodies

Percentage testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies remained high across the UK

Modelled percentage of adults with antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and who reported they have received three or more COVID-19 vaccinations, UK countries, 7 December 2020 to 23 December 2021

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An estimated 97.5% of the adult population in England, 96.8% in Wales, 97.4% in Northern Ireland and 97.7% in Scotland tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies in the week beginning 20 December 2021.

The percentage of adults who reported they have received three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine has increased rapidly since September 2021, in line with the vaccine programme. These vaccination estimates will differ from daily official government figures, which are actual numbers of vaccines recorded. 

Testing negative means that an individual did not have enough antibodies to be detected in the test, not that they do not have any immune protection against the virus. Please read our Antibodies and Immunity blog for more information. Estimates show the percentage of adults testing positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at or above 42 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml). See more information on threshold levels.

Last updated: 13/01/2022

Read more about this in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: antibody data for the UK

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Antibody positivity is high across data sources

Estimated percentage of people testing positive for antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, 28 April 2020 to 23 December 2021, England

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The proportion of people aged 16 years and over testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies in England increased between December 2020 and December 2021. The Coronavirus Infection Survey (CIS), UK Health Security Agency data from NHS Blood and Transplant (NHS-BT) blood donors, and Real-time Assessment of Community Transmission-2 (REACT-2) show similar trends in antibody positivity. Results from these sources may vary because of differences in data collection and methodology, including antibody concentration threshold for positive test. For details see our more information page.

Last updated: 13/01/2022

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Antibodies by age

Antibody positivity remained high for all age groups across the UK

Modelled percentage of adults with antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and who reported they have received three or more COVID-19 vaccinations, by age group, UK countries, 7 December 2020 to 23 December 2021

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In the week beginning 20 December 2021, the percentage of adults testing positive for antibodies remained high across all age groups across the UK.

Estimates show the percentage of adults testing positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at or above 42 ng/ml. See more information on threshold levels. Testing negative means that an individual did not have enough antibodies to be detected in the test, not that they do not have any immune protection against the virus. Please read our Antibodies and Immunity blog for more information.

Last updated: 13/01/2022

Read more about this in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: antibody data for the UK

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Antibodies by concentration threshold

The percentage of adults with antibodies at or above the higher threshold were high for all age groups across the UK

Modelled percentage of adults with levels of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 at or above the standard and higher thresholds, and who reported they have received three or more COVID-19 vaccinations, by age group, UK countries, 7 December 2020 to 23 December 2021

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In the week beginning 20 December 2021, the percentage of adults with levels of coronavirus (COVID-19) antibodies at or above the higher threshold of 179 ng/ml were high among all age groups across the UK. There were increases in the percentage of adults with antibodies at or above the higher threshold among those aged below 65 years in England, Wales and Scotland, and among those aged below 70 years in Northern Ireland.

Across the UK, antibody waning is more evident among those aged over 50 years from May 2021 to September 2021 using the higher threshold of 179 ng/ml in comparison withto the standard 42 ng/ml threshold. There has been a rapid increase in antibody levels that suggest higher protection (levels at or above the 179 ng/ml threshold) across the UK among those aged 50 years and over since early October 2021, likely as a result of the vaccination booster programme.

Estimates show the percentage of adults testing positive for antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at or above 42 ng/ml and 179 ng/ml. The higher threshold of 179 ng/ml was determined from analysis during the period when most COVID-19 infections were with the Delta variant. See more information on threshold levels.

Last updated: 13/01/2022

Read more about this in Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: antibody data for the UK

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Further information


The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey (CIS) estimates antibody positivity based on blood test results taken from a randomly selected subsample of individuals aged 16 years and over in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The REACT-2 study tests randomly selected participants aged 18 years and over from the NHS patient list in England, who self-administer a lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) finger prick test to detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The UK Health Security Agency publishes antibody positivity based on testing samples from healthy adult blood donors aged 17 years and older, supplied by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHS BT) as part of the UKHSA sero-surveillance programme. Antibody data from CIS, REACT-2 and UKHSA, that is presented on our tool includes antibodies from both infections and vaccinations.

The Coronavirus Schools Infection Survey estimates the percentage of staff and pupils with antibodies against COVID-19. Staff are tested from blood and pupils from oral-fluid samples using assays that detect antibodies from a previous infection, but not from vaccination.

To find out more about antibody data from different sources visit our more information page.

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Contact

Latest insights team
infection.survey.analysis@ons.gov.uk