‘Regional variations’ in Covid immunity levels, says stats chief

Professor Sir Ian Diamond, head of the Office for National Statistics, said there is a lot of regional variation in terms of how many people have antibodies.

Asked if it is too early to know how much of the fall in infection across the UK is down to the vaccine rollout, he said there are a number of moving parts such as vaccines and restrictions.

He told The Andrew Marr Show: “I mean I would say though that this has been an incredibly impressive vaccine rollout, and we’ve been looking at antibodies in the population, and we’ve been scaling up our survey in order to be able to take many more blood tests so that we can look at the impact.

“And what we’re seeing is quite remarkable increases in the level of antibodies in the over-80s, and increasingly in the over-70s. So I’m very, very confident that the vaccine rollout is really starting to provide some real protection.

“At the other side we see very relatively high levels amongst young people which just shows how much of young people have been affected by the virus.

“I’d finally just say on this that there is a lot of regional variation, so we find 30 per cent of London have antibodies whereas only 16 per cent in the south-west, so we need to recognise that as well.”