The World Health Organization (WHO) says there is currently “no evidence” showing that people who have recovered from the coronavirus are not at risk of becoming infected again.
Several countries, including the United States, have considered the idea of written documentation proving the holder is either immune or no longer infected with the coronavirus so they can return to the workforce.
“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 in a scientific brief dated Friday.
The international body said there is “currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
Chile on Monday said it would begin handing out “health passports” to those who have recovered, exempting them from quarantines and restrictions, The Washington Post reported.
Anthony Fauci, the United States’s leading infectious disease expert, said earlier this month that such a system has been discussed by the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force.
“It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure who the vulnerable people are and not,” Fauci said. “This is something that’s being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit.”
There have been 796,300 cases of recovery worldwide, according to a database from John Hopkins University.
However, the WHO earlier this month confirmed that it is investigating reports of some recovered coronavirus patients testing positive for the illness after initially testing negative.
The move is in response to a report from South Korea that 91 patients who had been cleared of COVID-19 and were being prepared for discharge tested positive again. Officials say that, rather than being reinfected, patients may be suffering from a “reactivated” coronavirus.