Estonia Starts Testing Digital Immunity Passports

Estonia has launched testing of immunity digital passports, Reuters reports. According to the agency, this is one of the first such experiments in the world. Currently, the country is looking for ways to return people to jobs after easing the restrictions associated with the novel coronavirus.

The immunity passport includes information about the human tests for COVID-19 and allows sharing the user’s immunity status with third parties – for example, the employer – through temporary QR codes received after digital authentication, Reuters explained.

The immunity passports were developed by the non-governmental organization Back to Work, which includes founders of start-ups, local health experts and government officials.

Among the first companies to start applying digital immunity passports as part of testing were Radisson hotels and the food provider PRFoods. “We consider any decision so that our employees return to work and clients spend the night in our hotels,” Reuters quotes the director general of Radisson Blu Sky Hotel in Tallinn.

Now many countries are testing for antibodies to COVID-19 in the human body. The presence of antibodies of one type indicates that the person was sick at the time of passing the test, and the other type – that the person had already been ill earlier but recovered. The idea of digital passports is based on this principle and the assumption that a person who has a disease acquires immunity to it. However, at the end of April the World Health Organization said that so far there is no evidence of the formation of immunity to the coronavirus after the disease.

WHO indicated that the risk of reinfection – and therefore the risk of the spread of the virus – cannot be ruled out. In addition, the tests themselves require further checks regarding accuracy and reliability, the organization added. In particular, tests should distinguish the infection with exactly the new type of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from its six “brothers”: four of them cause the usual flu, and two more have led to past major outbreaks of infection – MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and SARS.

Therefore, WHO believed that it was not yet possible to guarantee the accuracy and validity of immunity passports. According to the organization, people with this document will ignore requirements of health authorities, which will increase the risk of the spread of the disease.

At the same time, a study in South Korea, the results of which were published this week, showed that people who got COVID-19 again are no longer able to transmit it to other people.

source: reuters.com, bloomberg.com

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