New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released this week has revealed an 11.6% decline in the number of over-70s with detectable Covid 19 antibodies. Its latest figures show over 98% of 70–74-year-olds have been jabbed twice, but only 86% still retain antibodies for the disease, whereas 97.3% of this group showed detectable antibodies for Covid 19 back in June.
Dr. Quinton Fivelman, PhD, the Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘This is a significant fall, and the rate of decline seems to be getting steeper. As recently as 16 September, 90.4% of 70–74-year-olds still retained detectable antibodies.
‘London Medical Laboratory warned early last month that the decline in antibodies amongst over-70s was rising alarmingly. The rate of decline now seems to be steepening. Ironically, because the most elderly and vulnerable were the first people to receive both jabs, they are the first to begin losing their level of protection, just as colder weather approaches. Covid levels are likely to climb during the autumn and winter, and we will see this compounded with other illnesses like flu.
‘Over the next few months, we expect to see a similar rate of decline in the over-50s age group, for whom their second jab is also becoming a distant memory. Looking at the rate of decline in antibodies amongst over-70s, the Government might need to consider shortening the six-month gap between second and third jabs for older age groups.
‘These ONS findings are backed up by London Medical Laboratory’s own research. We’ve seen a marked decline in antibody levels in recent weeks amongst those people taking our antibody level test, whether via finger prick at home or in one of our clinics. This has been the case particularly amongst those patients aged over 50.
‘Our tests have revealed a growing number of people who have been jabbed twice now have lower values (50 to 500AU/ml) of antibodies. The “cut-off value” is still not known and how long protection will last is still being fully understood. If someone takes a test and their score is low, their antibody levels may have significantly declined over time, and they may be more susceptible to the virus as time passes. Recent research has shown a strong link to antibody levels and protection against serious disease.
‘To some extent this decline is being offset by the number of young people of 12-18 currently receiving a single dose of a vaccine, but that’s cold comfort for older age groups whose antibody levels may now not be sufficient to fight the disease.
‘We now believe that everyone’s antibody profile is as unique as their fingerprint. Exactly how many different antibodies are in our blood at any one time was previously unknown; many scientists estimated it to be over several billion. In fact, we now know most people, whether sick or well, have just a few tens to hundreds of distinct antibodies present at high concentrations
‘If anyone is concerned about their own immune response to the jabs and how well they continue to produce antibodies, the new generation blood tests available from London Medical Laboratory are highly accurate, quick and simple to carry out, either in their own home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics which offer this test across London and the southeast.