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10 Apr, 2020 16:33

Papers, please! Covid-19 ‘immunity cards’ may be required of Americans, Fauci says

Papers, please! Covid-19 ‘immunity cards’ may be required of Americans, Fauci says

Dr Anthony Fauci says US citizens may have to carry ‘cards’ proving they are immune from coronavirus – which raises serious questions, including whether doctors really know you’re immune and if Americans would ever easily comply.

“That’s possible,” Fauci, who sits on the White House coronavirus task force, told CNN on Friday when asked about the potential of US citizens being required to carry Covid-19 “immunity cards” once testing for antibodies against the virus is more widely available. 

Fauci said the idea has “merit” and is being “discussed.” 

“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 [are] not,” he told the network’s ‘New Day’. 

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The idea of immunity cards has been proposed in other countries such as Germany, where researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research have floated the idea of massive testing and issuing “immunity certificates” to those who test positive for antibodies to the virus. These people would then be unrestricted by the country’s lockdown measures.

Gerard Krause, a leading epidemiologist with the group, said a “vaccination card” would lift the “restrictions” on work for those proven to be immune to the virus. 

The UK is also discussing the possibility of introducing such documents. And in the US, Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) also suggested an immunity registry to help document those who have tested negative for Covid-19. 

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Such an idea could face more hurdles in the US, where pundits and officials have already been questioning lockdown measures as an offense on civil liberties. Even showing an ID card before voting in elections is a hotly debated and controversial topic in the country, a bad sign for any such “immunity cards.”

On top of that, health experts still have much to learn about the virus. In South Korea, for instance, some who have recovered from Covid-19 have eventually tested positive again, suggesting recovery and a negative test may not be a guarantee of immunity.

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Fauci even admits mass testing for immunity cards will not be enough, as there will need to be “strategies” to “validate” those tests and to make sure a patient would not be “at risk or vulnerable to getting reinfected.”

Further complicating any such move by the US government is the availability of testing. Fauci said a “rather large number” of tests will be available in the coming week, but President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that there are no plans for nationwide, required testing for Covid-19. 

“Do you need [testing]? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We're talking about 325 million people and that's not gonna happen, as you can imagine, and it would never happen with anyone else, either,” the president said.

According to the president, two million tests for Covid-19 have been completed in the US, which has over 460,000 confirmed cases and over 16,000 deaths from the virus.

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