More than 154,000 participants took part in a home surveillance immunity study between Jan 26 and Feb 8, with 13.9 per cent testing positive for antibodies overall. It is the first time vaccinated people have been included in the results, but scientists warned that many had been immunised too close to the survey for antibodies to build sufficiently, particularly those who had the AstraZeneca jab.
The study also showed that many people who were infected last spring still had antibodies to the virus, demonstrating the long-lasting effect of natural immunity.
Prof Helen Ward, the lead author of the study, said: “It is very encouraging to see that uptake and confidence in the vaccination programme is so high, and that most people develop a detectable antibody response after one dose. Our findings suggest that it is very important for people to take up the second dose when it is offered.”
The research also revealed that overall vaccine confidence is high, with 92 per cent having accepted, or planning to accept, a vaccine offer.
A separate study from Oxford University showed that more than three quarters are now “very likely” to have the AstraZeneca jab, up from 50 per cent among the same group of survey respondents five months ago.
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, said: “It is fantastic to see over 90 per cent of people surveyed would accept or had already accepted a vaccine as we continue to expand the rollout.”
Separate research, based on the Israeli vaccination rollout, showed that two doses of the Pfizer vaccine reduced symptomatic Covid by 94 per cent and severe disease by 92 per cent.
A single dose reduced symptomatic disease by 57 per cent and severe disease by 62 per cent after three weeks, roughly in line with what Public Health England found in early analysis.