CDC: More than half of Americans have been infected with COVID-19

Boxes of KN95 protective masks are stacked together before being distributed to students at Camden High School in Camden, N.J., Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022. According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Tuesday, April 26, 2022, three out of every four U.S. children have been infected with COVID-19. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

More than half of all Americans now have antibodies pointing to a previous infection of COVID-19, according to results from a new study at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new CDC analysis estimates that at least three out of every five Americans have antibodies indicating a prior COVID-19 infection.

This is up over the rate fueled by the Omicron surge over the winter, when around one-third of Americans were identified as having signs of a previous COVID-19 infection.

CDC officials say the number is highest for young people, with almost 75 percent of children and adolescents having antibodies.

At a briefing Tuesday, Dr. Kristie Clarke of the CDC’s COVID-19 Seroprevalence Team told reporters the findings are significant.

“This is the first time that population seroprevalence is over 50 percent,” she says.

CDC director Rochelle Walensky says the combined protection from prior infection and vaccination adds up to a lot of immunity overall.

“That said, we can’t underscore enough, those who have detectable antibodies from prior infection, we still continue to encourage them to get vaccinated,” Walensky says. “We don’t know as much about that level of protection than we do about the protection we get from both vaccines and boosters.”

Walensky says it’s important for everyone to get shots, including anyone who’s already had and recovered from COVID-19, to avoid re-infection, severe disease or complications.