The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that recovering from the coronavirus may not protect people from reinfection as antibody testing kicks-off across the United States where there are more than 959,000. confirmed cases.
‘There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,’ WHO officials said in a statement on Saturday.
‘People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice,’ it said.
The warning came as some governments study measures such as ‘immunity passports’ or documents for those who have recovered as one way to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that recovering from the coronavirus may not protect people from reinfection as antibody testing kicks-off across the United States. Firefighters in New York City wait in line to receive antibody testing on Saturday
The warning came as some governments study measures such as ‘immunity passports’ or documents for those who have recovered as one way to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown (antibody testing seen in Massachusetts)
In a scientific brief, the United Nations agency warned governments against issuing ‘immunity passports’ or ‘risk-free certificates’ to people who have been infected as their accuracy could not be guaranteed.
The practice could actually increase the risks of continued spread as people who have recovered may ignore advice about taking standard precautions against the virus, it said.
‘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,”‘ WHO said.
The WHO said it continued to review the evidence on antibody responses to the virus, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year. Some 2.9 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 203,000 have died.
Most studies have shown that people who have recovered from infection have antibodies to the virus, the WHO said.
However, some of them have very low levels of neutralizing antibodies in their blood, ‘suggesting that cellular immunity may also be critical for recovery’, it added.
New York is starting to test health care workers for coronavirus antibodies and will do the same next week with transit and law enforcement workers as the state eases away from the worst days of the pandemic, Gov Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
Doctors, nurses and other employees at four New York City hospitals that have handled high volumes of coronavirus patients will be the first tested under the new program, Cuomo said.
Antibody testing is a way of determining if a person has been infected by the coronavirus even if they hadn’t shown symptoms.
After weeks of reserving conventional coronavirus testing to people with symptoms to conserve supplies, the state is expanding eligibility to include first responders, health care workers and a long list of essential employees, such as bus drivers, dry cleaners, undertakers and grocery store workers.
‘Why? Because these people have been carrying the load and they have been subjected to the public all during this crisis, and because they’re public facing,’ Cuomo said. ‘These are the people you interact with.’
Cuomo said he is signing an executive order to allow pharmacies to serve as collection points for testing samples.
A recent study in New York City revealed that more than 20 per cent of New York City residents tested positive for coronavirus antibodies
There are more than 960,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the US with more than 54,000 deaths
If accurate, that means that as many as 1.7 million people have been infected in the city – and that the mortality rate is between 0.6 and 0.8 per cent, far greater than the 0.1 per cent mortality rate of the flu.
The study took samples from 3,000 randomly selected people across the state who were chosen at grocery stores and had their blood taken via a finger-prick test that the state’s health department made.
It remains unknown how accurate it is. While private companies have given exact percentages for how accurate their own tests are, when questioned about their test, the NY health department, said only that theirs was ‘very accurate’.
Statewide, the virus prevalence was 13.9 per cent but it was far higher in New York City, where 21.2 per cent tested positive.
A similar survey was conducted in Florida by the University of Miami.
The study’s preliminary results showed that about six per cent of Miami-Dade residents have antibodies against coronavirus, 15 times more cases than the official tally.
On Friday, the University of Miami said it estimated about 165,000 people had been infected at some point with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
That’s much larger than the 10,926 confirmed cases that have been reported by Florida’s health department.
With 287 confirmed deaths in the county it would mean the fatality rate is actually 0.17 per cent which is lower than the current official fatality rate for the county of 2.6 per cent.