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News > Switzerland

'Science Doesn't Back a COVID-19 Immunity Passport' WHO Holds

  • Stewards set up 'virtual fans' prior the Premier League soccer match in Brest, Belarus, April 25, 2020.

    Stewards set up 'virtual fans' prior the Premier League soccer match in Brest, Belarus, April 25, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 25 April 2020

According to their advocates, risk-free certificates could be used to resume economic activities.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Saturday confirmed that scientific evidence does not provide certainty that a patient recovered from COVID-19 is protected against a second infection, which leaves no support for the idea of granting "immunity passports."


'Coronavirus Did Not Come out of a Laboratory', WHO Holds

Some governments have claimed that detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in one person could be enough to certify that such a person is immune and will not be able to infect others.

According to their advocates, "immunity passports" could be used to facilitate the elimination of strict quarantines and the resumption of economic activities.

However, most recovered patients develop antibodies against coronavirus, but their presence in the blood may be meager in some cases.

"As of April 24, no study has evaluated whether the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antivirus confers immunity to subsequent infections in humans," the WHO clarified.

People assuming they are immune to a second infection because they have previously received a positive serology test result may ignore pandemic-related restrictions. As a consequence of this, the use of those passports could increase the risk of transmission.

Several countries are also waiting for their populations to develop a "collective immunity" as more and more people become contaminated and cured of COVID-19.

The WHO insisted that preliminary results of serology tests show that group immunity is low inclusive in the countries most affected by the pandemic.

Scientists argue that such tests can lead to mistakes and place people in categories that do not correspond to them. One type of error tests can induce is that a contaminated person is declared negative or that an uncontaminated person is declared a positive case.

The tests could also mislead when they detect antibodies that correspond to the other six known human coronaviruses.

"People infected with any of these viruses can generate antibodies that are confused with those produced in response to SARS-CoV-2," the WHO recalled.

As of Saturday morning, there are 2.72 million COVID-19 cases and over 187,000 deaths worldwide.

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