Monday, January 18, 2021

‘No evidence’ antibodies protect recovered coronavirus patients, WHO says

No evidence exists that people who have recovered from the coronavirus are protected from reinfection, even if they have antibodies, the World Health Organization said Saturday.
The warning from the U.N.’s health arm runs counter to what many survivors thought could be their ticket to freedom from COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Some governments have suggested that the detection of antibodies … could serve as the basis for an ‘immunity passport’ or ‘risk-free certificate,’” the WHO said.
“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
Preliminary antibody testing this week suggests one in every five New Yorkers have had the virus, according to a sample of 3,000.
The state’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, said he hopes testing can help get people out of their homes.
“It is a way to say this person had the disease and they can go back into the workforce,” Zucker said. “A strong test like we have can tell you that you have antibodies.”
A city health official, however, expressed skepticism about the testing earlier this month.
Antibody tests “may produce false-negative or false-positive results,” Demetre Daskalakis, a deputy health commissioner, wrote to healthcare providers.

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