This morning, the UK’s Office for National Statistics has just released their latest antibody survey
that’s published every two weeks. It estimated that in the week ending July 4th, 92% of the adult
population in England would have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies, which is up from just 13% at
the start of the year.
This reflects both the impact of the vaccination rollout, as well as
people having obtained antibodies from being infected by the virus. One can see the vaccine’s impact in
that the oldest groups saw a big rise in antibody levels ahead of the younger groups. But now that the
vaccine is widely available to all, the younger groups are catching up, with even those aged 25-34 having
antibody levels at 92% for the week ending July 4th. This was only at 61% at the end of May.
For this group in particular, infections seem to also be playing a decent role as well. The NHS stats
for that week only indicate around two-thirds of the 25-34 year old group had had their first dose by
that point, so some way shy of the 92% with antibodies. And the latest case numbers for England indicate
that among the under40s, the numbers testing positive for Covid have reached their highest level of the
entire pandemic so far, which leaves plenty of scope for those antibody numbers to rise further,
especially as this only goes up to the week ending July 4th before the recent surge in cases.
With England having now completely eased limits on social gatherings, the big question now is whether
that wall of antibodies will be enough to stem the rising tide of cases. The UK experience (good or bad)
over the next few weeks will tell us a lot about how the global response to the pandemic may evolve. If a
country with 92% of adults with antibodies (and rising) struggles then we’re in for a long winter.
However if cases plateau in August and hospitals aren’t overwhelmed, the developed world may move on
quicker than the delta-focused market currently expects.