One of many methods nations have been easing lockdown restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic is by issuing “immunity passports”.
The thought is that those that have had the illness, might develop antibodies and subsequently immunity, permitting them to return to work.
It is an thought mooted in various nations, together with the U.Okay. and Germany, that are preventing the pandemic. More and more, folks have come to imagine that when you’ve got had the virus, you are immune.
However are you able to be resistant to COVID-19?
Professor David Heymann, an infectious illness skilled based mostly on the London Faculty of Hygiene and Tropical Drugs and former assistant director of the World Well being Group (WHO) has warned towards the thought persons are immune, claiming it’s “too early to inform if folks can develop immunity.”
He advised Newsweek: “We have seen with different viruses that within the quick time period folks could develop immunity and might look like protected one chilly season for instance, however the subsequent season they’re contaminated with the identical virus.”
For instance, susceptible persons are suggested to get a flu jab yearly to negate any mutations within the virus. There is no such thing as a present method to develop into totally immune from the flu however current antibodies can create partial safety or ease signs.
Professor Heymann additionally cautioned towards the concept growing immunity would imply an entire restoration for folks with the virus.
He mentioned: “You might have an enhanced antibody response which really causes hurt to the physique.
“Does that actually trigger an immunity and, if it does, for a way lengthy? And can that immunity by some means be an immunity which we’re not anticipating and has some unwanted effects?
“In order that’s why the World Well being Group is recommending that individuals not use an immune standing as a method of claiming you are secure to return to work as a result of that is by no means clear.”
The WHO has been fairly clear about its view of immunity passports:
“There’s at present no proof that individuals who have recovered from Covid-19 and have antibodies are shielded from a second an infection,” it mentioned in an announcement on April 25.
“At this level within the pandemic, there may be not sufficient proof concerning the effectiveness of antibody-mediated immunity to ensure the accuracy of an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificates’.”
Professor Heymann additionally mentioned we didn’t know for sure but if the present exams displaying whether or not someone has developed antibodies to the COVID-19 are correct.
He mentioned: “The exams which can be out there aren’t thought of but to have their sensitivity and specificity recognized. They’re being examined for that to see in the event that they’re delicate sufficient to choose up all infections and in the event that they’re particular sufficient to not choose up issues like different coronaviruses as a substitute of simply COVID-19.”
Professor Heymann additionally drew consideration to research in China that confirmed that individuals who have gentle infections have not “produced sufficient antibodies to be detected within the sort of testing that they’re doing.”
He mentioned: “We simply do not perceive sufficient concerning the antibodies and the safety they provide to say that this can be utilized for what some persons are calling an immunity passport to return to work.”
Professor Heymann additionally mentioned that immunity was no assure that you weren’t a provider of the virus in your nostril.
He mentioned: “For instance, with meningitis which is transmitted by means of the nostril and thru coughing and sneezing, folks may be resistant to that micro organism, but carry the micro organism of their nostril and infect others.
“And the identical is true for polio, should you’re resistant to polio you may nonetheless carry the virus that causes polio in your intestine regardless that it would not infect you it might have an effect on others.”
Polio has now been successfully eradicated after the profitable deployment in a vaccine, besides in areas of the world with the poorest and most marginalized communities.
However we’re a good distance away from having the ability to say that the coronavirus pandemic has been “solved”.
Professor Heymann additionally drew consideration to how MERS coronavirus, which impacts camels, continues to be carried within the nasal passage of camels which can be immune.
He mentioned: “Now we have a precedent within the animal kingdom with a coronavirus and is that very same factor occurring in people, we simply do not know but.”
Dr. Mohammed Abbas Khaki additionally cautioned towards the usage of antibody exams.
He mentioned: “All people thinks the brand new antibody exams which can be arriving will likely be actually highly effective and necessary, however there are nonetheless points with the take a look at we have to take into account.
“The take a look at can inform you should you’ve had it (COVID-19) however it would not essentially imply that you simply’re immune.”
Dr. Larisa Corda, who works on the frontline within the battle towards COVID-19 in intensive care items additionally warned that individuals believing they’re immune provides them a false sense of safety.
She mentioned: “The antibody take a look at can be a measure of whether or not you had the virus earlier than and whether or not you theoretically developed immunity to it by growing antibodies in response to the preliminary antigen set off from COVID-19.
“In order that takes a bit bit extra time to develop, however theoretically should you’ve received these antibodies they will final for weeks or months in your serum.
“Now what hasn’t been confirmed but is that even should you’ve received antibodies that you’ll essentially be resistant to COVID-19.”
Dr. Corda mentioned folks might be given a false reassurance that they might be immune and do not need to comply with social distancing tips, which might give rise to a second wave of an infection.