WHO Warns Against “Immunity Passports”

The latest in COVID-19

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WHO Warns Against “Immunity Passports”

Quick Take

  • Systemic disconnects between the IRS and the tax preparation industry causes additional delays for stimulus payments.
  • CDC adds six new coronavirus symptoms to its website.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo allows independent pharmacies to collect and coronavirus tests.
  • The WHO pushes back against the theory that individuals can only catch the coronavirus once.

Globally, there are more than 3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 200k fatalities. The U.S. alone has nearly 1 million cases.

CDC Adds Six New Coronavirus Symptoms

The CDC has added six new coronavirus symptoms to its website, including chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell. The CDC’s list had already included fever, cough, and shortness of breath as symptoms.

The CDC says that anyone who has trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, or bluish lips should seek immediate medical attention. Other symptoms include diarrhea, skin rash, runny nose, red eyes, and fatigue. Many people have also been known to remain asymptomatic.

New York Expands Testing To Pharmacies

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order to dramatically expand testing across the state by allowing independent pharmacies to collect and test samples.

The state aims to double its current capacity of 20,000 tests a day and expand testing eligibility beyond first responders and health care workers. Roughly 5,000 independent pharmacies will now be able to screen for the virus. Law enforcement and transit workers will also be tested for coronavirus antibodies under a new state program. New York reported 1,100 new cases and 437 coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours.

WHO Urgest Against Immunity Passports

The World Health Organization has pushed back against the theory that individuals can only catch the coronavirus once, as well as proposals for reopening society based on immunity passports. The organization says that the idea that one-time infection can lead to immunity remains unproven and is thus unreliable.

The statement comes just days after Chile announced it would begin issuing immunity cards that act as passports, allowing travelers to clear security at airports with a document that shows they have recovered from the virus.  Officials in France, the U.K., and the U.S. have expressed interest in similar ideas. However, the WHO notes that no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies confers immunity to re-infection.

The concept of herd immunity also relies on a significant portion of the public developing immunity which would slow down transmission and diminish risks. However, early data reported from South Korea and China shows that a growing number of recovered patients appear to have suffered a relapse of the disease.

Scientists caution against overreliance on coronavirus antibody tests, even as the tests have become an essential tool for getting workers back to their jobs. Scientists found that only three of the 14 coronavirus antibody tests currently on the market have delivered reliable results. According to CNN, the U.S. is launching an investigation to determine whether the FDA should increase its enforcement on antibody tests amid varying degrees of reliability and accuracy.

Delayed Stimulus Payments

While tens of millions of Americans have received payments through direct deposit, many others have been offered little information about when they will receive their payments. The government is struggling to get cash into the hands of 150 million Americans. Some people have had to battle identity theft and others have had their payments seized by their banks.

Systemic disconnects between the IRS and the tax preparation industry has caused additional delays for Americans. The Treasury Department announced last week that some Americans would receive their payments by check. If you have not received your stimulus check, let us know on Twitter @coronavirusfm.

5 Million Americans Tested

And lastly, the United States conducted 1.2 million coronavirus tests this week, up from about 200,000 tests in mid-March. The U.S. has done a total of just over 5 million tests since the outbreak began. Medical experts estimate the country needs to do 20 million tests a day by mid-July to safely reopen the economy.

Increasing testing capacity has proved challenging for numerous reasons, chemical ingredients used are difficult to produce, and imported nasal swabs have been hard to come by amid global shortages. Lack of PPE is also a reason why wide-scale tests have not been carried out.

Chemical manufacturers, who usually produce sensitive ingredients in small batches, have been reluctant to invest in new capacity without assurance that the surge in demand will be sustained. Labs have also been slow to add people to process the swelling numbers of tests.