WHO warns against idea of ‘immunity passports’

Healthcare workers react to applause at Brooklyn's Kings County Hospital Center during a 7 o'clock ceremony during the corona
Healthcare workers react to applause at Brooklyn's Kings County Hospital Center during a 7 o'clock ceremony during the coronavirus pandemic, Friday, April 24, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

The World Health Organisation has warned against the idea of “immunity passports” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It said there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected against a second infection.

The concept of “immunity passports” or “risk-free certificates” has been floated as a way of allowing people protected against reinfection to return to work.

But the Geneva-based UN health agency said in a scientific brief published on Saturday that more research is needed.

It said that “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’.”

It argued that people who assume they are immune to reinfection may ignore public health advice, and that such certificates could raise the risks of continued virus transmission.

The WHO added that tests for antibodies of the new coronavirus also “need further validation to determine their accuracy and reliability”.

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