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Coronavirus immunity passports: why are they needed and how can they harm society

“Immunity Passports” were proposed as one of the ways to restore the economy after the coronavirus pandemic. The presence of so-called immunity passports will depend on the results of a test for antibodies to coronavirus. If you have antibodies to coronavirus, you can be protected from reinfection and, therefore, you can get the right to work and circulate in society without risk to yourself and others. Writes about it NPR.

Photo: Shutterstock

At least that is the idea. But it "can do far more harm than good," says Natalie Kofler, who teaches bioethics at Harvard Medical School.

Kofler says a system that depends on a blood test can cut off an already marginalized population from access to critical government resources, in which an “immunity dictated status” will decide “where they can go and what they can do.”

In any case, according to her, scientists are not sure that it is generally possible to achieve immunity from coronavirus and how long this immunity will last.

“I'm really worried that too much time and money is being devoted to policies that, first of all, are unlikely to work, and will also pose more risks than benefits,” Kofler said.

Who is interested in using "immunity passports"

Governments, including the United Kingdom, the United States, and Chile, have in fact already begun issuing their version of the immunity passport.

On the subject: WHO: the presence of antibodies to coronavirus does not mean that a person is immune to COVID-19

Private companies are also interested, in particular, in partnership with certain application developers to create applications that would allow people to check and display their immunity status on their phones, in which case private companies, such as certain hotels and even sports events, can control who can enter the room.

“Another issue raised by this issue is justice: the poor will simply not have access to immunity passports,” Kofler says. “Those who are already marginalized by society — the poor, minority groups — often end up in line for access to these valuable resources.” Therefore, we are very concerned about who can actually confirm their immunity. There may be people who simply cannot get access to society because they cannot even confirm their immune status. ”

If passports of immunity are not the answer, then

“I really think that now we need to pay attention to developing a vaccine, but it will also be publicly available. And I support, perhaps, thinking about new ways to protect particularly vulnerable places where many people collide, ”Kofler said.

“It is possible, for example, to enter nursing homes or certain penitentiary facilities where there is a high density of people who are at higher risk of getting COVID-19, you will need to test for antibodies right there,” Kofler says. “But not on an individual level, where everyone will depend on their immune status, which will decide where they can go and what to do.” I think it can do much more harm than good. ”

Miscellaneous passport immunity Educational program Special Projects

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You may already be ill: how to get tested for antibodies to coronavirus without leaving your home

Coronavirus antibody test: why do you need to do it

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