WHO does not endorse an immunity passport

The scientific evidence gathered so far does not provide certainty that a person who has contracted the coronavirus, has recovered, and has generated antibodies is protected against a second infection, leaving behind the idea of an immunity passport, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

This is WHO’s reaction to claims by some governments that detection of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in one person may be sufficient to issue a certificate or immunity passport stating that they can no longer infect others.

The WHO reiterates in the last two weeks its calls for caution and alerts that, if the lifting of quarantine measures by COVID-19 is not carried out gradually and even by areas differentiating between the most and least areas affected from the same country, the result may be a new and violent outbreak of the coronavirus.

In a guide published today for all its member states and which is the product of the analysis of the results of various studies, research and scientific articles, the WHO explains that most of them show that people who recover from the disease develop antibodies against the virus, but in some cases its presence in blood is very low.

Also, people who assume they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive result (from the serology test) may ignore sanitary measures, so the use of these certificates could increase the risk of transmission.

Likewise, the organization stresses that the tests must be able to distinguish between infections overcome by SARS-CoV-2 and those caused by any of the other six known human coronaviruses ―four of them cause the common flu, the fifth the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the last the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV or SARS-CoV-1)―, since people infected with any of these viruses can generate antibodies that are confused with those produced in response to SARS-CoV-2.

Editorial Disclaimer: information published during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic may be updated frequently to reflect the dynamic nature of current understanding.

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