Immunity passports coming?

4/10/20 Update:

The US is now apparently at least considering some type of “immunity certificates” that would indicate an individual has previously had the coronavirus.

These certificates would likely be issued based on antibody testing that will detect if your body has produced antibodies in response to a coronavirus infection.

The difference is that the US seems to be more focused on issuing the certificates for those on the front lines, such as healthcare workers and first responders.

The idea would be to give them a systematic way to show that they are at low risk of getting a serious coronavirus infection.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN:

“It’s one of those things that we talk about when we want to make sure that we know who the vulnerable people are and not,” he said

The US is set to begin to ramp up antibody testing in a week or so. So soon we will be able to more accurately tell who has had the disease before and also get a better picture of just how contagious and widespread the disease is.

At this point, experts have not announced conclusive data on immunity. Many experts believe that people who get coronavirus will have immunity to it afterwards but it is not clear as to how long that immunity will last and the degree of immunity.

For example, it could be possible that if you have a mild case of coronavirus you only develop a mild case of antibodies which may not be as effective as antibodies created from a severe case. 

As for duration of immunity, I’ve seen reports of anywhere from 6 to 18 months for an initial period of immunity and some have even talked about the possible need for a second “booster” to extend immunity far beyond that. I’m definitely not a medical expert so I have no idea what the outcome will be but these are some of the thoughts I have come across.

I imagine that after widespread antibody testing over the next few weeks, we will have a much better understanding of how the process works and how we can use that data to help get people back to work sooner.



4/2/20 original article:

One of the biggest issues that we will soon face in a few months is how to re-introduce people back into society.

Some people, like the elderly and those with certain underlying health conditions, should be among the last to venture back out into the public and mingle around crowds.

Meanwhile, healthy people can probably be among the first to get back out and start to live a more normal existence.

But there is one group of people who might have priority over everybody.

These are individuals who will be able to venture out even before a lockdown is ended. 

These are people who have already been infected with the virus.

Multiple countries like the UK are considering issuing out “immunity passports” or certificates which are basically designations that an individual has the antibodies for the coronavirus.

This type of designation will require extensive testing of the population and so far the early antibody tests have proven to be substandard in some locations like the UK.

Once antibody testing becomes more of a priority (i.e., after everything has peaked) then I would expect there to be a quick rise in legitimate antibody testing since it is known to be one of the easier tests to put together and distribute.

Countries are already planning on sending out hundreds of thousands of these in the coming weeks.

It will be very interesting to see if these countries implement some type of formal system to recognize those who have tested positive for antibodies. 

Since these people would presumably be at no risk or at a very low risk of getting the disease a second time, they can be among the very first people that get back out in society and get things going. (Scientists are still trying to figure out how immunity will work with this virus.)

There are now over 1 million cases confirmed in the world for coronavirus so it would follow that there are a lot of people out there with antibodies since up to 50% of carriers may not exhibit any symptoms. These people could help spark the economy a little bit by keeping things running while others remain in lockdown.

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