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WHO warns against ‘immunity passports’

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‘No evidence that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection’

THE WORLD Health Organization (WHO) is cautioning governments against issuing so-called “immunity passports” to people who have recovered from Covid-19, saying there’s no evidence that a formerly infected person cannot get the disease again.

The idea has been floated in some countries that people who can prove they have tested positive for antibodies against the new coronavirus could return to work and normal life sooner.

Under the scheme, these individuals could be issued a certificate that identifies them as immune to Covid-19. The thinking is that with more people living like they did pre-pandemic, the economic effects of the virus could be mitigated.

But a new scientific brief by the WHO warns that there is currently no evidence “that people who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection”.

The global health body also noted that several antibody tests have been put on the market but that their accuracy and reliability needs further assessment.

The WHO said that, in general, it supports testing for antibodies “as they are critical for understanding the extent of – and risk factors associated with – infection”.

However, it said current testing cannot determine whether the antibodies can prevent a secondary infection.

– dpa