Health officials have been scrambling to contain the spread of the current coronavirus pandemic. Now, experts are weighing the possibility of letting people who have had the infection, but showed no symptoms, travel or return to work with a coronavirus immunity card.
An Endorsement from Dr. Fauci
Last Friday, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, discussed the possibility of using immunity cards with CNN. “You know, that’s possible,” Fauci said of implementing them. “I mean, 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. This is something that’s being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit, under certain circumstances.”
The Need for Antibody Tests
In order for immunity cards to work, there would need to be widespread antibody testing. These tests would determine whether someone has recovered from the disease without ever showing any symptoms.
Some companies, such as PeopleG2 and ToxTest, have been selling antibody tests to consumers, reports Futurism. However, none of the tests currently available have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Moreover, the US Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has recommended against relying on results from these tests.
“[M]ost of them, almost all of them have not been through FDA authorization, and we are very concerned that many of the tests are really just not accurate,” HHS official Brett Giroir told Fox and Friends earlier this month.
However, Dr. Fauci has expressed confidence that FDA-approved tests will become available in the near future. “Within a period of a week or so, we’re going to have a rather large number of tests that are available,” he told CNN.
Eyeing a Tech Approach to Immunity Cards
Elsewhere in the world, immunity cards are already being used to help contain the spread of the virus. Researchers in Germany have implemented the system, while the idea is also being considered in the United Kingdom and Italy, reports Politico.
However, some experts are looking at more high-tech ways of tracing coronavirus infections. “[P]eople are looking at all the different modern technology that could be brought to bear to make contact tracing more efficient and effective,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told NPR. “Are there more, if you will say, tech-savvy ways to be more comprehensive in contact tracing versus the old-fashioned way? You know, certainly, these things are under aggressive evaluation.”