Hopes of a 'normal' summer and hugs by June as 70% of adults in England have Covid antibodies

HUGS could be back on the cards this summer as 70 per cent of adults in England have coronavirus antibodies.

One in four UK adults are now fully vaccinated after a record number of second doses were dished out in a week.

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It means a quarter have had both jabs – a total of 13,201,811 people.

Vaccines have a direct link to antibodies and protecting people from infection and the data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that seven in 10 Brits now have antibodies.

Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at Public Health England (PHE) said: "Vaccines are vital in helping us return to a normal way of life.

"Not only do vaccines reduce the severity of illness and prevent hundreds of deaths every day, we now see they also have an additional impact on reducing the chance of passing Covid-19 on to others."

One expert today said that the vaccine uptake and the number of people with antibodies could mean that people would be able to hug their relatives by June, but said that a decision to curb social distancing measures would be a political one.

Dr Mike Tildesley, from the University of Warwick and a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) group said people will be able to be close to another person, such as a family member, if both have been vaccinated.

Speaking to Times Radio he said: "I think this is really difficult because of course, in a sense, this becomes more of a sort of a political decision rather than an epidemiological decision because we have been told that on June 21 all of these legal limits on contact will be removed, but it's still unclear exactly what that means.

"Whether that means that on that date some social distancing will be in place or whether all of those will be removed and you'll be able to go and hug your loved ones.

"I think the key thing is that if you're both vaccinated, of course, it does reduce the risk of anyone becoming severely ill and my hope is that as we move towards that June date, we will be in a position that we can not just see our loved ones, but also we can hug our loved ones because it's been a very long time since we've been able to do that."

HIGH LEVELS OF ANTIBODIES

The ONS data today revealed that adults in the North West have the highest levels of antibodies in the country, and the North East has the lowest.

The findings come as the nation is set to further loosen lockdown rules on May 17.

At present pubs are open outside and all non-essential shops are also open, the next phase of measures to be lifted would mean that hospitality could resume indoors as well as over night visits.

Blood samples were taken and found that 68.3 per cent of the adult population tested positive for antibodies.

The ONS said that the figures show "a clear pattern between vaccination and testing positive for Covid-19 antibodies".

Sarah Crofts, Senior Statistician for the Covid-19 Infection survey said the data shows the growing success of the vaccine rollout.

Three jabs are currently being rolled out across the UK, the Oxford/AstraZeneca the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna.

Over 33.8 million people have received a first dose with 13.2 also having had a second.

 

Crofts added: “In England, we estimate 7 in 10 adults would now test positive for antibodies against Covid-19. These kind of antibody levels are really encouraging as we transition out of lockdown.

“Those in their early 70s are the group with the most people testing positive for antibodies – likely due to that age group now having received the second dose of the vaccine.”

The analysis found that the highest percentage of adults testing positive was those aged 70-74 years old with 87.6 per cent.

This could be due to the fact that older age groups were at the top of the priority list for jabs.

But in early to mid-March, there was a decrease in the estimated percentage of adults testing positive for antibodies in older age groups.

The ONS states that this has now gone up again in older adults, reflected the number of people who have received a second dose of their jab.

The level of antibodies seen in Brits due to the vaccines gives hope to many that summer holidays could be on the cards this year.

The transport secretary Grant Shapps today said Covid certificates for tourism and large domestic events, such as gigs and football matches, will be built into the health service smartphone application, NHS Track and Trace.

And in a boost to millions he also announced the UK is on course to drop its ban on international travel on May 17, declaring "The data does continue to look good."

His remarks came after Spain's tourism minister told The Sun that the country will be ready to welcome back Brits in June.

Mr Shapps said the UK will have to be "very cautious" as it reopens the borders because the pandemic is raging worse than ever in many other parts of the world.

In response to the latest data set Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that vaccines are saving thousands of lives in our country.

He said: “Today’s ONS data shows more and more of us are benefiting from protection the vaccine gives us against this awful disease. The public’s response to the call to vaccines has been amazing, with over 95% of over 50s stepping forward. We can now see the impact in reality.

“The evidence is clear that the vaccine protects you, your loved ones and those around you. The vaccine is our way out and getting back to doing the things we have missed.

“This is a massive national effort – so when you get the call, get the jab.”

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