As global Coronavirus death toll tops 200,000, WHO warns against issuing immunity passports

As coronavirus death toll is plateauing, countries are gearing up to re-open, leading to concerns about the second wave of coronavirus infections

The global coronavirus death toll surpassed the grim milestone of 200,000; to reach 202,880 on Sunday, April 26. The USA has emerged as the worst-hit nation, with 939,053 infection cases and 53,789 fatalities till now.

Despite the high death toll, fatality rates in western countries are plateauing and even declining in several countries, providing hope that countries might be re-opened in the coming days. But, on Saturday, April 25, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement against the issuance of immunity passports, highlighting that there isn't any substantial proof that persons infected by novel coronavirus develop immunity and cannot be re-infected.

WHO cautions against immunity passports

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The world health body issued a statement of caution on Saturday after reports emerged about 'immunity passports' for those who have recovered as one way to get people back to work after weeks of the economic shutdown, AFP reported.

"There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection," WHO wrote on Twitter, but deleted it later due to the confusion it caused. In a follow-up tweet, WHO said: "We expect that most people who are infected with COVID-19 will develop an antibody response that will provide some level of protection."

"What we don't yet know is the level of protection or how long it will last. We are working with scientists around the world to better understand the body's response to #COVID19 infection. So far, no studies have answered these important questions," it added.

Thus, the world health body has cautioned that those who've survived the disease aren't necessarily immune from being re-infected. A cause for concern regarding 'immunity passports' is that those possessing them might get careless and ignore public health advice, such as continuing to wear face masks, believing that they're safe from the disease, fueling a second wave of infection. WHO, on Saturday also recommended people to "follow public health guidelines." Also, cases have emerged from China, Japan and South Korea of patients who recovered, were later re-infected.

Related topics : Coronavirus