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Experts Believe Coronavirus Antibody Tests Could Lead To Discrimination At Workplaces

While governments have mulled using ‘immunity passports’, experts have warned that it create new problems, including discrimination in workplaces.


As coronavirus has affected nearly 212 countries and territories around the globe, governments are now scrambling to find ways to get people back to work and one tool that majority of leaders are relying on is the antibody test. While governments have mulled using ‘immunity passports’, experts have reportedly warned that the certificates could create new problems, including discrimination in workplaces, or people trying to get infected so they can return to their jobs sooner. 

While speaking to an international media outlet, one doctor even called the problem could lead to people playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their lives. The experts believe that widespread antibody testing should incentivise employers to take steps that would amount to discrimination. They reportedly believe that situation might include not permitting those testing Antibody Negative to return to work, or only taking on new staff with Antibody Positive test results. 

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Furthermore, the experts believe that certain tasks, like customer-facing work, could end up only being allocated to those who tested positive. According to an international media report, experts also believe that several UK employees who face discrimination due to antibody status would also have limited legal protections, as antibody status is not yet considered a protected characteristic under anti-discrimination law. 

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‘Two-tier society’ 

With many commercial manufacturers producing antibody tests, experts also think that the testing could also lead to companies producing false-positive results that could lead people to mistakenly believe that they already been infected. Therefore, the antibody tests could create a two-tier society in which people with antibodies can rejoin social and economic life, leaving the rest of the society behind. Experts fear that the immunity passports could compound existing gender, racial and nationality inequalities. 

Moreover, experts even pointed out that the immunity passport could lead to people falsifying test results or even deliberately infecting themselves with the virus. The access to the antibody has also raised concerns among the experts as people with fairly low income might not be able to access such tests. One of the experts even pointed out that as the tests are not widely available and regulated, someone could even use blood from another person to obtain a positive result.  

(Image credit: AP) 

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