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Antibodies against coronavirus (COVID-19)

The presence of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 suggests that a person has previously been infected with COVID-19 or vaccinated. In the week beginning 18 July 2022, the percentages of adults estimated to have antibodies at or above a 179 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) level were:

  • 96.1% in England 

  • 95.7% in Wales 

  • 94.7% in Northern Ireland 

  • 95.5% in Scotland

These estimates are based on data collected from study worker home visits. The way data are being collected has now changed. As a result, there will be a pause to the publication of our antibodies bulletin on 7 September 2022 to allow for additional checks. Results using the new data collection method will be published for the first time on 21 September 2022. For more information about this change, please see our The COVID-19 Infection Survey is changing blog.

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Antibody levels remained high in adults across the UK

Modelled percentage of the adult population with levels of antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at or above 179 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) or 800ng/ml, by age group, UK countries, 7 December 2020 to 24 July 2022

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In the UK, the proportion of adults with antibodies at or above the 179ng/ml level remains high. An estimated 96.1% of adults in England, 95.7% in Wales, 94.7% in Northern Ireland and 95.5% in Scotland had antibodies against COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) at or above the 179ng/ml level in the most recent week (beginning 18 July 2022).

At or above the higher level of 800ng/ml, an estimated 73.6% of adults in England, 73.8% in Wales, 75.3% in Northern Ireland and 73.5% in Scotland had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. Among the oldest age groups, the percentage estimated to have antibodies has generally increased since April 2022, likely as a result of fourth vaccinations given to people of those ages.

In Great Britain, an estimated 90.3% of children aged 12 to 15 years, and 72.6% of children aged 8 to 11 years, had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at or above the 179ng/ml level. An estimated 74.9% of children aged 12 to 15 years, and 41.1% of children aged 8 to 11 years, had antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 at or above the 800ng/ml level

An issue with antibody lab results from 10 January to 27 February 2022 primarily impacted 800 ng/ml estimates. This means estimates for 800ng/ml or higher are not available for this period and estimates at or above the 179ng/ml level for February 2022 are subject to change.

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. See our more information page to read about antibody levels.

Last updated: 24/08/2022

Find out more in our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey: antibody dataset

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Antibodies in school pupils

An estimated 99.3% of secondary school pupils and 82.0% of primary school pupils, in England, had antibodies against COVID-19 in March 2022 (Round 3). This is significantly higher than in January to February 2022 (Round 2) for both secondary (96.6%) and primary (62.4%) school pupils. Antibody levels in Round 2 were significantly higher than those in Round 1 (November to December 2021) for both secondary (82.4%) and primary (40.1%) school pupils.

The proportion of pupils testing positive for antibodies steadily increased by age. Over three-quarters of pupils aged 4 to 7 years (78%), around 9 in 10 pupils aged 8 to 11 years (89.5%) and nearly all secondary school-aged pupils (12 to 15 years) tested positive for antibodies.

Antibody testing in Round 3 took place while COVID-19 cases in England were increasing, especially among school aged children, because of the Omicron variant. The increase between Round 2 and Round 3 is likely to be driven by both natural infection and the continuing vaccination programme.

Last updated: 27/06/2022

Read more about this in our COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey, England: Pupil antibody data, March 2022 bulletin

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In March 2022, in England, more than 99% of secondary school pupils had antibodies to COVID-19. Of those, nearly three-quarters (73%) were vaccinated and just over one-quarter (27%) were unvaccinated. Of the 82.0% of primary school pupils who tested positive for antibodies, almost all (99.4%) were unvaccinated. You can read more about vaccinations in young people on our Vaccines page.

Last updated: 27/06/2022

Read more about this in our COVID-19 Schools Infection Survey, England: Pupil antibody data, March 2022 bulletin

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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 SARS-CoV-2. 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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