In a scientific brief released on Friday, April 25, the UN health agency said there was no evidence that one-time infection could lead to immunity, and “laboratory tests that detect antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] in humans needs more validation to determine their accuracy and reliability.”
Earlier today we tweeted about a new WHO scientific brief on “immunity passports”. The thread caused some concern & we would like to clarify:
“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,” said WHO, adding: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
As part of its guidance on improving public health and social interventions for the next step of
the COVID-19 response, who stressed that the evidence on antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection is still being reviewed.
The new guidance comes in the midst of media reports that some countries have declared their intention to issue so-called “immunity cards” that would allow individual travel, based on the premise that a person infected with coronavirus will not be able to get infected again.
Although most important studies indicate that people who have recovered from the infection have antibodies to the virus, WHO noted that, “no research has assessed whether the existence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent human infection with this virus.”
“At this point in the pandemic, there is not enough evidence about the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to guarantee the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate,’”
“People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may, therefore, increase the risks of continued transmission” said WHO.