The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that there is no evidence regarding the immunity of people who have recovered from COVID-19 and possess antibodies. The UN health agency came up with the clarification after some government suggested to provide “immunity passport” or “risk-free certificate” to those individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies to fight the virus.
The motive behind the suggestion was to enable individuals to travel to resume their work assuming they were protected against a second infection. On April 24, 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.
According to the UN agency, the development of immunity to a pathogen through natural infection is a multi-step process that typically takes place over 1-2 weeks. The WHO said that it continues to review the evidence on antibody responses to the novel coronavirus infection as most of the studies show that recovered COVID-19 patients have antibodies to the virus.
“However, some of these people have very low levels of neutralizing antibodies in their blood, suggesting that cellular immunity may also be critical for recovery,” said the WHO in a statement.
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.
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