Everything you need to know about immunity passports - and how they could work

By Finlay Greig
Monday, 15th June 2020, 12:18 pm
Updated Monday, 15th June 2020, 12:18 pm
Priti Patel revealed that immunity passports were being looked into as a replacemnt for current travel quarantine measures (Getty Images)
Priti Patel revealed that immunity passports were being looked into as a replacemnt for current travel quarantine measures (Getty Images)

Immunity passports have been floated by the government as a method of easing Britons back to normal life during the coronavirus pandemic, and as a potential replacement for current travel quarantine measures.

The certifications would allow those who have lived with the virus and become immune to return to social situations and work without the need for social distancing.

Priti Patel revealed that the government were looking into their use last week but they aren't without flaws.

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What are they?

Immunity passports are documents that certify you have recovered from coronavirus.

In theory these would be assigned to patients who have recovered from Covid-19 and now possess antibodies that protect them from carrying the disease.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously said that the certifications would be used to allow those who are immune to return to resume activities.

How would they work?

It remains unclear how a passport system would work should the government implement such a strategy.

The government have indicated that he documentation could be introduced to ease pressure on the travel industry.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said that the immunity passports could be used as a replacement for the current travel quarantine system.

She said: “air bridges, fast testing, immunity passport, how we can digitalise the response at the border” were all being looked into by the government.

Any obstacles to their use?

Currently it remains to be seen whether the presence of antibodies provides immunity to those who carry them, thus throwing the usefulness of an immunity passport into question.

World Health Organisation previously stated in a report: "There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection."

Millions of antibody tests have been ordered by the government but it will be some time before it is known whether they provide immunity and what the lifespan of that immunity is.

Ms Patel implied as much when speaking to MPs last week when she said that travel quarantine measures would be lifted when: “the degree to which antibody and other methods of testing prove effective in minimising the health risk.”