The World Health Organization (WHO) mentioned on Saturday that there was presently no evidence that proves that people who recovered from the coronavirus or COVID-19 and have antibodies will not get infected for the second time.
In a brief, the UN agency cautioned the governments around the world against the issuance of immunity passports to the people who have been infected with the deadly virus and recovered from it as the accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
WHO warns nations against issuing immunity passports
The practice could actually increase the risks of continued spread as people who have recovered may ignore advice about taking standard precautions against the virus, it said. "Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could serve as the basis for an 'immunity passport' or 'risk-free certificate' that would enable individuals to travel or to return to work assuming that they are protected against re-infection," the WHO said.
"There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection," it said. Chile said last week it would begin handing out "health passports" to people deemed to have recovered from the illness. Once screened to determine if they have developed antibodies to make them immune to the virus, they could immediately rejoin the workforce.
WHO is reviewing the evidence on antibody responses to the virus
The WHO said it continued to review the evidence on antibody responses to the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. Some 2.8 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 196,298 have died, according to a Reuters tally.
Most studies have shown that people who have recovered from infection have antibodies to the virus, the WHO said. However, some of them have very low levels of neutralizing antibodies in their blood, "suggesting that cellular immunity may also be critical for recovery", it added.
(With agency inputs)