SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — In a newly published scientific brief, the World Health Organization said that there is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from getting a second infection.
Previously, some governments have suggested that the presence of antibodies could serve as an immunity passport or risk-free certificate that would allow people to return to work or travel.
“WHO is reminding us and if we need reminding, that it’s premature to state that the presence of antibodies against COVID-19 offer protection, that may be true, it may not be true,” said UC Berkeley Professor of Epidemiology Art Reingold.
Reingold at UC Berkeley says protection from the coronavirus could last a few weeks, months, years, or a lifetime, but it’s unclear at this time.
“There are a lot of infectious diseases where antibodies don’t protect you from reinfection. A good example is HIV, another good example is Hepatitis C,” he added.
The brief said “People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. The use of such certificates may therefore increase the risks of continued transmission.”
“I think the other thing to remember is that only a small number of people in the BayArea are going to have – will have been infected and have antibodies anyway,” said UCSF Professor of Epidemiology George Rutherford. “Probably in the order of 1 or 2 percent, maybe, so it’s not going to be like half of the population has these.”
Rutherford is advising the public to get their flu shots when the time comes, because we will have COVID-19 and influenza circulating in the community at the same time this fall.