‘Grave concerns’ about Covid-19 immunity passports

FRANCE24.COM

Trapped between the competing urgencies of saving lives from Covid-19 and avoiding economic calamity, some government officials have mooted “immunity passports” as a way through the impasse. But experts told FRANCE 24 that the necessary antibody testing is not reliable enough – and even if the scheme were feasible, it could create a dangerous incentive for some to acquire the virus in order to qualify for the passport. The global tally of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed 2 million on Wednesday – a day after researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health warned that the US may need to keep some social distancing measures until 2022, while the IMF predicted that, thanks to “the Great Lockdown”, the world will suffer the worst recession since the Great Depression. Anxious about both the unfolding economic disaster and the risk of Covid-19 resurging if lockdowns are reversed prematurely, some officials in hard-hit countries have suggested that a system of immunity passports could be a route out of the coronavirus crisis – for some at least. The idea is that people who have already had the disease and thereby gained immunity could be given permits to live their lives mostly like they did before the pandemic. Shortly after emerging from self-isolation after testing positive for Covid-19, the UK’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced in early April that the British government was considering an “immunity certificate” system to allow those who qualify to “get back as much as possible to normal life”.

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