Chile has decided to go ahead with its controversial plan to issue “release certificates” to people who have recovered from COVID-19 despite warning from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Chilean Deputy Health Minister Paula Daza has said that the certificates would help people who have recovered from the infectious disease to return to work.
Earlier, the WHO had said that there is no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and possess antibodies are immune from re-infection. The UN agency came up with guidance after some governments, including Chilean, announced their plan to provide “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” to those individuals who have recovered from COVID-19.
The motive behind the suggestion was to enable individuals to travel to resume their work assuming they were protected against a second infection. However, the WHO published guidance on public health measures for the next phase of the COVID-19 response in which it highlighted the lack of any concrete evidence to strike out the chances of a re-infection.
The UN body further added that no study, as of April 24, has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans. It also said that there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate”.
“The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission,” warned WHO.
But Chile decided to go ahead with its plan to issue such contentious certificates after the WHO tweeted another clarification that the agency expects that most of the recovered patients will develop antibodies and it will provide “some level” of protection. The WHO added that they don't yet know regarding the level of protection or how long it will last. Referring to the clarification, Daza told reporters on April 26 that a person who has had the illness has a lower probability of becoming ill again.
Earlier today we tweeted about a new WHO scientific brief on "immunity passports". The thread caused some concern & we would like to clarify:— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) April 25, 2020
We expect that most people who are infected with #COVID19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection. pic.twitter.com/AmxvQQLTjM