Tourism

World Health Organization warns against “immunity passports”

Ali Coulton

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned governments against giving people who have recovered from COVID-19 “immunity passports”.

The idea has been floated by countries seeking a way out of the socially and economically devastating lockdowns such as the US, the UK, Italy, and Germany.

However, WHO said in a scientific brief there is no evidence COVID-19 recoverees are protected against a second infection. Instead, the “passports” could actually pose a significant risk to the population.

“Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate’ that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection,” the brief said.

“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”

The WHO also said many countries are now testing for antibodies in specific groups like health workers or close contacts of known cases.

“These studies will provide data on the percentage of people with detectable COVID-19 antibodies, but most are not designed to determine whether those people are immune to secondary infections,” it said.

“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.”

Featured image credit: iStock.com/kyoshino

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