WHO warns there's "no evidence" that Covid-19 survivors will have immunity 6 months ago

WHO warns there's "no evidence" that Covid-19 survivors will have immunity

Initial evidence did not suggest large numbers of people were developing antibodies after having the virus.

There is currently no evidence to support the theory that those who recover from coronavirus will have immunity, the World Health Organisation has said.

Senior WHO epidemiologists have said that despite governments placing hopes in antibody tests, there's no proof that those who have been infected can't be infected again.

“What the use of these tests will do will measure the level of antibodies. It’s a response that the body has a week or two later after they’ve been infected with this virus,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit said at a news conference at WHO’s Geneva headquarters.

“Right now, we have no evidence that the use of a serological test can show that an individual is immune or protected from reinfection.”

She said initial evidence did not suggest large numbers of people were developing antibodies after having the virus, meaning the chances of creating "herd immunity" were not high.

Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organisation's health emergencies programme, said the antibody tests could also raise some serious ethical questions.

"There are serious ethical issues around the use of such an approach and we need to address it very carefully, we also need to look at the length of protection that antibodies might give," he said.

"You might have someone who believes they are seropositive [have been infected] and protected in a situation where they may be exposed and in fact they are susceptible to the disease."