- HealthHuffPost UK
Research by Imperial College London suggests that just 4.4% of people in England had antibodies at the end of September.
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- HealthThe Telegraph
The findings from a surveillance study of 365,000 people raise a terrifying prospect – one of Britain as some sort of Narnia, where it is always winter but never Christmas. Research by Imperial College London has been key to Government policy-making on the pandemic from the off. Most famously, it was behind the modelling that persuaded Boris Johnson to order the country into full lockdown in March. The study being published now is no less significant. For months, the Government's approach to the pandemic has been predicated on the assumption that a vaccine will ultimately come to the rescue. Until then, measures can only "buy time". If successful, restrictions on liberty can push down the 'R' rate, reducing levels of infection, saving lives and preventing the NHS from becoming overwhelmed. All of this is, of course, a short-term measure with colossal costs, not just to the economy but also in lives lost from diseases other than Covid-19. Falling antibody rates But the research suggests a still more fatal flaw in the strategy – that such policies could be counting on a breakthrough that may never come. Imperial's scientists analysed the results of finger prick tests on hundreds of thousands of people to establish antibody levels in communities across England between late June and September. They found that across the country, antibody prevalence – which only reached six per cent in June – than saw a significant decline. Overall, it fell to 4.4 per cent within three months, a fall of more than one quarter. However, scientists are wrestling with major uncertainties when it comes to Covid-19. An antibody response suggests some protection against future disease, but no one knows how much.