Last month, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning to countries that were giving out "immunity passports" to people who had had the COVID-19 infection and were tested for antibodies for it. The idea behind these passports was that those with "immunity" could travel for work purposes and be protected against reinfection. In its statement, the WHO said: "At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an'immunity passport' or'risk-free certificate'. People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission."
Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. There is "currently no evidence" that people who recover from coronavirus are protected from a second infection, the World Health Organization wrote Friday in a scientific briefing. The statement came as Chile announced plans to distribute "immunity passports" for recovering patients to use at workplaces, airports and other locations – and as officials in the U.S. and France expressed interest in similar plans, NPR reported.
If ministers think immunity passports or wristbands are the answer to resolving the immediate coronavirus crisis, they are asking the wrong question. Such a system, if implemented, would see one group of people granted the right to retrieve the civil liberties they had lost in the lockdown, and another group hanging around at home while they waited to contract a virus that can kill those it infects. This does not mean that serological testing (for antibodies) is unimportant. It will be vital to get a sense of how far the infection has spread, to gauge how many of us had Covid-19. The science is not clearcut.
Medical volunteers dressed in protective suits, masks, gloves and goggles take blood samples from visitors with symptoms to test them for Covid-19 infection in a tent set up next to a doctor's office on March 27, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Germany is seeking to radically ramp up its coronavirus testing capacity to up to 200,000 tests per day by the end of April as a means to allow people to return to work and hence get the crisis-stricken German economy back into gear. As the coronavirus continues its global march, it's clear that a significant number of cases are very mild or cause no symptoms at all. Yet people with these stealth infections can still shed the virus and spread the disease, creating a swirl of confusion about how many cases may actually exist worldwide--and how we can hope to contain the pandemic. Early estimates for asymptomatic cases are inconsistent.
People who have caught COVID-19 and recovered from the disease could be encouraged to rejoin the general public to provide'shield immunity'. The reintroduction of recovered coronavirus patients would, in theory, help reduce the rate of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. Researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology say the immunity of the recovered patients would help to slow the spread of the contagion. Ushering out more recovered patients would ensure most interactions include an immune person, which makes it impossible for the virus to propagate. This so-called'shield immunity' strategy could help quash the R0 -- the amount of people an infected person passed the virus on to -- and could be used together with existing precautions, such as social distancing, contact tracing and self-isolation.