WHO warns countries to stop issuing ‘immunity passport’ for recovered COVID-19 patients
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has cautioned passport issuers against issuing “immunity passports” to people who have recovered from Covid-19.
Immunity Passport is a passport that a COVID-19 patient gets after recovering from the sickness to prove they can go ahead with normal life activities.
According to WHO, there was no empirical evidence that victims who recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies in their system were well protected from second infection.
In a new scientific briefing, the WHO stated that people who assumed they were immune to a second infection since they had received positive test results might ignore public health advice.
The organisation decried that the issuing of certificates could pose health risk on other people, stressing that it could provide unjustified assurances of protection to individuals and communities, thus might increase the risk of continued spreading of the virus.
“At this point in the pandemic, there is no enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an immunity passport or risk-free certificate,” it added.
It was noted that reports from China and South Korea appeared that patients who recovered from the disease testing positive again, hence the warning.
Explaining why such incidents occur, the Director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), Jeong Eun-kyeong, observed that the virus reactivate itself in patients rather than being reinfected.
False test results, he said could also be a reason, other experts further explained that remnants of the virus could still be in patients’ systems but not ones that pose a danger to the host or risk infecting others.
Experts previously have raised concerns that “immunity passports” could exacerbate economic inequalities, and increase transmission risks by encouraging people desperate for work to deliberately infect others.
Most studies showed that people who recovered from infection have antibodies to the virus, but was not clear if they provide protection.
As of April 24, no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans.
In this regards, managements of WHO promised to continue reviewing evidence on antibody responses to the virus.
The idea of separating people by immunity status has a dark history in the United States of America, Germany, United kingdom and Italy, however Chile is the only country which successfully launched an official immunity passport scheme.
Elsewhere there have been concerns that schemes would be unreliable and impractical if only a small portion of the population was infected.
Over five months that the virus emerged from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, it has killed nearly 200,000 people, and infected more than 2.8 million world wide.
Currently, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ghana has risen to 1,550 with 11deaths and 155 recoveries.
BY JOYCELINE NATALLY CUDJOE