Three-quarters of adults in the UK have now developed antibodies against Covid-19, including over 90% of people aged 50 and above, data from the government’s Office for National Statistics has revealed.

“The vaccine is severing the link between cases and hospitalisations and deaths from coronavirus,” Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a news briefing on Thursday, as he discussed the findings.

Hancock said the evidence of growing resistance to the virus means that most vulnerable people, such as those with underlying health conditions, are now protected against the virus.

The health secretary said data from Public Health England showed that vaccinations are estimated to have prevented a total of 13,200 deaths and 39,700 hospitalisations.

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However, he also warned the public to “take personal responsibility” to slow the spread of the virus amid a rise in the number of new cases, which is being fuelled by the B.1.617.2 Covid-19 variant first detected in India.

The strain, which early evidence suggests is more transmissible than older forms of the virus, now makes up as many as 75% of the UK’s new Covid-19 cases, Hancock said.

The number of cases of the Indian variant in the UK has almost doubled from 3,535 last week to 6,959 on Thursday, the latest data from Public Health England shows.

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The worst-affected areas are Bolton, Bedford and Blackburn with Darwen.

On Wednesday, the UK posted a further 3,542 new cases of the virus – its highest daily tally since April 12. It also recorded 10 new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test, the latest official data shows.

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