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What we’ve learned following the latest antibody tests

Image of the world with a mask around it and words overlaid saying "How has COVID-19 changed our lives"

17 October 2022

In our latest COVID studies, we have looked at participants' immunity and how the pandemic is affecting their lives. Here's a round-up of what we've found, following the latest antibody tests and COVID questionnaire.

Listen to Professor Kate Northstone provide a quick snapshot of what we’ve learned

The third COVID-19 antibody test was completed over May and June 2022 by almost 3,000 participants. Thank you to everyone who took part! Here's what we found...

  • Two types of antibody response were measured in the two tests, reflecting immune responses to different parts of the virus responsible for the disease COVID-19. Some of those parts are in the vaccination and we expect responses to them in those who have received those vaccinations. Other parts we only see if you have had an infection (even if you didn't know it!).

  • We found the majority of participants were likely to have had either a COVID-19 vaccination or infection or both (99%). This reflects the amazing efforts of all to get the jab(s) as fast as possible.

  • In contrast to this, immune responses specific to infection were less common and not the same for everyone. Older participants were less likely to have had an infection, with around 50% of original parents showing evidence for infection compared to over 67% of the 30 year olds.

  • We know that a previous COVID-19 infection offers greater protection from serious disease. So ironically, it looks as though our younger participants (who are both vaccinated and have had COVID) are the best protected as we go into this winter. But even though our older participants may not have had COVID-19 yet, they are currently protected very well by their vaccinations.

COVID-19 questionnaire findings

The COVID-19 questionnaires were completed over April and May 2022 by just under 4,500 participants in total. You completed six COVID-19 questionnaires over the course of this time which is incredible. Thank you so much for all your support.

COVID-19 and vaccinations

  • 32% of original Children of the 90s participants thought they had not had COVID-19, compared to 46% of our original parents. 
  • Similar percentages in both generations of participants reported long COVID (~15%).
  • 95% of original Children of the 90s participants have had at least one vaccination, compared to 99% of their parents. 

The effect of the pandemic on health and wellbeing

  • A third of original Children of the 90s participants reported that their physical health was worse than it was before the pandemic, 16% said it was better.
  • 40% of original Children of the 90s reported their mental health was worse than pre-pandemic (this compares to a quarter of mums and a fifth of dads in the older generation).
  • A quarter of Children of the 90s participants said their relationship with their partner had improved (compared to 7% of original parents), although 16% reported a change in relationship (compared to 4% of original parents).
  • However, the pandemic appears to have had a detrimental effect on social life with 30% reporting this was worse than it was pre-pandemic, compared to 10% reporting an improvement.
  • Access to medical care has clearly been affected by the pandemic with 45% of participants reporting this had got worse.
  • 20% of participants were unable to access community health services during the pandemic and almost 10% were unable to access a hospital appointment.

The effect of the pandemic on work and finances

  • A third of original Children of the 90s participants reported their work and financial situations had improved over the pandemic but approximately 15% of participants reported that their work and financial situations had got worse.
  • On the whole, more participants reported a positive than a negative effect of the pandemic on their work-life balance (30% vs 20% in original participants and 15% vs 9% in original parents).
  • The pandemic made people think about their work situation, with 30% considering a decrease in their working hours (original parents were twice as likely to have acted on this compared to their children; a third of the original Children of the 90s have increased the time they spend working at home compared to 25% of original dads and just 15% of original mums).
  • Almost half of our original Children of the 90s have considered changing the field they work in due to the pandemic, compared to 20% of their parents. Whilst 45% of the young adult participants have considered leaving their role entirely compared to 30% of their parents.
  • 9% of participants had lost their job during the pandemic, while 21% of young adults and 12% of their parents were put on furlough.

Without your completed questionnaires we would be unable to track the health impact of the pandemic, as well as the way all our lives have changed. From relationships, to work, to finances - your responses are providing data that enables policymakers to see the real impact COVID-19 has had, and continues to have on lives. Thanks for taking the time to complete our questionnaires, it is having a real impact on science.

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