The head of the World Health Organization on Monday said that likely no more than 2% to 3% of the global population have developed antibodies for COVID-19.
That is a problem for countries hoping to issue “immunity passports” as a way to get back to normal, even before a coronavirus vaccine has been developed.
A second WHO expert said the data does not yet support such a strategy, not least because it is not clear whether those who recover from COVID-19 are in fact immune.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, gave the 2%-to-3% ballpark at a press conference on Monday, citing studies from around the world that the WHO has supported. He did not give details.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said that the figure was lower than expected, according to the Guardian.
She also cast doubt on countries where officials are exploring ideas of offering “immunity passports” to those who are carrying antibodies. These countries include the US,UK, Germany, and Italy.
Of that idea, Van Kerkhove said: “Right now, we have no evidence that the use of a serological test can show that an individual has immunity or is protected from reinfection.” Serological tests are those which test the blood for antibodies.
The presence of antibodies typically makes a person immune to reinfection for at least a while. But it is not yet clear what kind of protection is afforded by COVID-19 antibodies.
Some are optimistic. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious-disease expert, has previously said he was “willing to bet anything that people who recover are really protected against reinfection.”
The technical storage or access is strictly necessary for the legitimate purpose of enabling the use of a specific service explicitly requested by the subscriber or user, or for the sole purpose of carrying out the transmission of a communication over an electronic communications network.
The technical storage or access is necessary for the legitimate purpose of storing preferences that are not requested by the subscriber or user.
The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for statistical purposes.The technical storage or access that is used exclusively for anonymous statistical purposes. Without a subpoena, voluntary compliance on the part of your Internet Service Provider, or additional records from a third party, information stored or retrieved for this purpose alone cannot usually be used to identify you.
The technical storage or access is required to create user profiles to send advertising, or to track the user on a website or across several websites for similar marketing purposes.