Noch the republic is packed like cotton wool, public life has largely come to a standstill because of the epidemic of the novel corona virus. But right now, when the period of social isolation is particularly painful for many because of the holidays, mind games appear comforting, which are about how society can get back to normal. And it is precisely in these models that people who have suffered from Covid-19 and have recovered from the viral disease play a decisive role. There is much to suggest that they could at least temporarily be immune to the new coronavirus after suffering an infection – and because they would then probably not pass on the pathogen, they would be the first to be able to participate freely in public life again.
Scientists are currently working intensively on tests to test the blood of the test subjects for antibodies that the immune system produces in response to the virus. In order for doctors, supervisors or law enforcement officers to determine in everyday life whether a person has really recovered from the viral disease, proof of the test result was also required – a written document that confirms that there is no risk of infection in the environment of the tested person suspend.
British Health Minister Matt Hancock has already thought out loud that a certificate of this kind could help to gradually return to normal. And there are already considerations in Italy to introduce an “immunity license”. The regional president of the Veneto region, Luca Zaia, brought the idea into play. Exactly how the documents should look and who should be authorized to issue them is still completely open.
In Germany, such mind games are still comparatively far away, both medically and politically. However, a manufacturer of chip card systems from Baden-Württemberg has recognized that immunity cards could represent a huge market and has advanced with an initiative. “The idea is that hospitals and testing centers can provide ID to any patient on site if antibodies are found in the blood,” said Intercard CEO Gerson Riesle. The card can be created immediately after the test evaluation, the date of the test and the testing facility should be noted on the card. “Those who have made it can work again and pave the way for those who will follow,” said Riesle.
The Federal Ministry of Health did not want to comment on the proposal to introduce identity cards for people who have been recovered. A spokesman for Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) said that individual companies are not commented on. The Robert Koch Institute did not comment on the idea either. Representatives of the resident doctors pointed out risks.
There are “a few problems with the antibody tests,” said Andreas Gassen, CEO of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians. “These tests are often not Sars-CoV-2-specific and are also positive if antibodies of similar viruses are detected.” Stephan Hofmeister, deputy chairman of the statutory health insurance physicians, added that “there is still no reliable information on immunity to Covid- 19 “. It was therefore not possible to certify immunity in writing. The production of appropriate ID cards “seems premature to us”.
Are antibody tests only suitable to a limited extent?
The German hospitals see it too soon. “Before you think about immunity cards, you need to be scientifically sure whether immunity is definitely given and if so, for how long,” said Georg Baum, managing director of the Deutsche Krankenhausgesellschaft, the newspaper. “As long as this is not clearly proven, such ID cards only prove that an infection has gone through.”
The leading association of German pharmacists was also skeptical. Antibody tests are only of limited use to detect an infection. “There is a danger that patients with a negative test result will be misleading and neglect hygiene measures such as washing their hands frequently or staying away. That would be fatal, ”said Martin Schulz, chairman of the drug commission for German pharmacists. The The Robert Koch Institute estimates that nearly 50,000 people nationwide should have recovered from an infection with the novel corona virus. The institute is currently planning several studies in which larger population groups will be tested for antibodies.