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AbstractBackgroundThe programme to vaccinate adults in England has been rapidly implemented since it began in December 2020. The community prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 anti-spike protein antibodies provides an estimate of total cumulative response to natural infection and vaccination. We describe the distribution of SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies in adults in England in May 2021 at a time when approximately 7 in 10 adults had received at least one dose of vaccine.MethodsSixth round of REACT-2 (REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-2), a cross-sectional random community survey of adults in England, from 12 to 25 May 2021; 207,337 participants completed questionnaires and self-administered a lateral flow immunoassay test producing a positive or negative result.ResultsVaccine coverage with one or more doses, weighted to the adult population in England, was 72.9% (95% confidence interval 72.7-73.0), varying by age from 25.1% (24.5-25.6) of those aged 18 to 24 years, to 99.2% (99.1-99.3) of those 75 years and older. In adjusted models, odds of vaccination were lower in men (odds ratio [OR] 0.89 [0.85-0.94]) than women, and in people of Black (0.41 [0.34-0.49]) compared to white ethnicity. There was higher vaccine coverage in the least deprived and highest income households. People who reported a history of COVID-19 were less likely to be vaccinated (OR 0.61 [0.55-0.67]). There was high coverage among health workers (OR 9.84 [8.79-11.02] and care workers (OR 4.17 [3.20-5.43]) compared to non-key workers, but lower in hospitality and retail workers (OR 0.73 [0.64-0.82] and 0.77 [0.70-0.85] respectively) after adjusting for age and key covariates.The prevalence of antibodies (weighted to the adult population of England and adjusted for test characteristics) was 61.1% (95% CI 60.9-61.4), up from 6.6% (5.4-5.7) in round 4 (27 October to 10 November 2020) and 13.9% (13.7-14.1) in round 5 (26 January to 8 February 2021). Prevalence (adjusted and weighted) increased with age, from 35.8% (35.1-36.5) in those aged 18 to 24 years, to 95.3% (94.6-95.9) in people 75 and over. Antibodies were 30% less likely to be detected in men than women (adjusted OR 0.69, 0.68-0.70), and were higher in people of Asian (OR 1.67 [1.58-1.77]), Black (1.55 [1.41-1.69]), mixed 1.17 [1.06-1.29] and other (1.37 [1.23-1.51]) ethnicities compared with white ethnicity. Workers in hospitality (OR 0.69 [0.63-0.74]) and retail (0.71 [0.67-0.75]) were less likely to have antibodies.Following two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, antibody positivity (adjusted for test performance) was 100% (100-100) at all ages except 80 years and older when it was 97.8% (95.9-99.6). For AstraZeneca positivity was over 90% up to age 69, and then 89.2% (88.5-89.9) in 70-79 year olds and 83.6% (78.5-88.3) in those aged 80 and over. Following a single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech positivity ranged from 100.0% (91.1-100.0) in those aged 18-29 to 32.2% (18.2-51.1) in those aged 70-79 years. For AstraZeneca this was 72.2% (68.5-75.9) in the youngest and 46.2% (40.0-52.7) in the oldest age group.DiscussionThe successful roll out of the vaccination programme in England has led to a high proportion of individuals having detectable antibodies, particularly in older age groups and those who have had two doses of vaccine. This is likely to be associated with high levels of protection from severe disease, and possibly from infection. Nonetheless, there remain some key groups with a lower prevalence of antibody, notably unvaccinated younger people, certain minority ethnic groups, those living in deprived areas and workers in some public facing employment. Obtaining improved rates of vaccination in these groups is essential to achieving high levels of protection against the virus through population immunity.FundingDepartment of Health and Social Care in England.

Original publication




Journal article


Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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