'No evidence' yet that recovered COVID-19 patients cannot be reinfected: WHO

'No evidence' yet that recovered COVID-19 patients cannot be reinfected: WHO

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside a building of the WHO in Geneva
FILE PHOTO: A World Health Organization (WHO) building in Geneva, Switzerland. (Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo)

GENEVA: The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday (Apr 25) that there was currently "no evidence" that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second coronavirus infection.

In a statement, the United Nations agency warned against issuing "immunity passports" or "risk-free certificates" to people who have been infected, saying the practice may actually increase the risk of spread as they may ignore standard advice.

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Chile said last week it would begin handing out "health passports" to people deemed to have recovered from the illness. 

Once screened to determine if they have developed antibodies to make them immune to the virus, they could immediately rejoin the workforce.

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. 

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Some 2.8 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 196,298 have died, according to a Reuters tally.

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.

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Source: Reuters/ic