Immunity certificates would be 'dangerous'

A suggestion for immunity certificates for coronavirus has been dismissed by a UK health expert.
A suggestion for immunity certificates for coronavirus has been dismissed by a UK health expert.

Immunity certificates for people who have recovered from coronavirus would be "dangerous" and unnecessary, a UK health expert has said.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock told a press conference on Thursday that the government was considering the documents to allow people to "get back, as much as possible, to normal life".

But Eleanor Riley, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Edinburgh, said that such certificates would give people a "sense of false security" about the disease.

"It's not something that we've ever done before. When we vaccinate people, particularly for certain diseases where they're going to travel overseas... we give people a certificate saying they have been vaccinated," she said.

"But that certificate doesn't say they are immune and there's a difference. We don't know yet whether somebody who has had this virus is immune.

"They have antibodies, they've clearly been exposed, yet will those antibodies protect them against reinfection? I'm not sure that we know that.

"So to give a certificate saying somebody is immune, I think is actually quite dangerous because: A, we don't know if it's true and B, it could give people a slight sense of false security, where they start to do things that they wouldn't otherwise do.

"I think it's very risky and I don't think it's necessary."

The Department of Health said it could not currently provide further information on the plan to issue certificates as it was "too early in the science of immunity".

Latest data shows 2,921 people died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK, as of 5pm Wednesday.

The total is up by 569 from 2,352 the day before and is the biggest day-on-day increase so far.

Australian Associated Press