WHO cautions governments against issuing ‘immunity passports’
The World Health Organization is warning governments against issuing “immunity passports,” saying that there was no evidence that a person who has recovered from COVID-19 is immune from a second infection.
In a scientific briefing paper published Friday, the United Nations agency 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.”
Officials in several countries have floated the idea of giving some kind of certificate to those who have recovered as a way to ease lockdown restrictions. Earlier this month, Britain’s health secretary suggested issuing immunity “wristbands.”
The WHO said most studies show that people who have recovered from COVID-19 do have antibodies to the coronavirus, but that this did not mean they had immunity. “Some of these people have very low levels of neutralizing antibodies in their blood, suggesting that cellular immunity may also be critical for recovery,” the WHO said.
The agency also said that those who assume they are immune to a second bout could end up ignoring health-care advice and actually increase the risk of spreading the disease.
“The use of such certificates may, therefore, increase the risks of continued transmission,” the paper said.