Chile plans to hand out world’s first coronavirus 'immunity passports'

The world's first coronavirus "immunity passports" amid the pandemic are expected to be doled out in Chile. Government officials said Monday that the more than 4,600 recovered patients in the country will be able to receive physical and digital cards making them exempt from quarantines and other restrictions, The Washington Post reports.

Additionally, other applicants will reportedly be tested for antibodies as part of what Santiago promises will be a mass testing scheme to determine whether people have a high probability of being noncontagious.

Immunity cards have been discussed in many countries, including the United States, as a potential way to jumpstart economies that have been in lockdown, but they remain controversial, since it's unclear how long immunity to COVID-19 lasts. Santiago seems content with moving forward for now, arguing recovered patients "can help the community enormously, because they don't present a risk."

But while Chile has largely been proactive when it comes to the pandemic, testing more people than any other country in Latin America and instituting strict quarantine measures, doctors and scientists have urged the government to take a step back when it comes to the latest development.

"There are serious doubts over the existence of long-term immunity to this virus, and there was no consultation with the Chilean Immunological Society before this measure was announced," said Cristóbal Cuadrado, the technical secretary for health policy and studies with Chile's medical union. "We have called upon the government to re-evaluate the policy and involve experts in the discussion before implementing the scheme." Read more at The Washington Post.

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