As a potential solution to help reopen the country without risking reinfection, Dr. Fauci says “immunity cards” for COVID-19 are being considered. These could be issued to anyone who takes an antibody test that shows they have recovered from the virus. This would indicate the presence of coronavirus-killing antibodies in their systems that would make them immune to reinfection.
“I mean, 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 not,” said Dr. Fauci during a press conference. “This is something that’s being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit, under certain circumstances.”
Whether such an ID would be digital, like a cloud antivirus marker, or a physical card showing immunity is unclear. While the idea clearly has some merit in terms of streamlining the process of reopening the country, others have expressed hesitance at the idea. There are downsides to such a policy, too.
Is This a Good Idea?
There are a few issues with the concept of immunity cards. For one thing, the cards would be a very common target of counterfeiting. Black-market printings of such ID cards would become commonplace overnight, all but invalidating their usefulness.
Another issue? It’s unclear if recovered cases are actually immune to reinfection. While early data shows that this is likely, it’s not completely certain. If some recovered cases had the virus long ago, the virus may have mutated since they were infected. This could allow for reinfection to take place.
A third issue with the concept of immunity ID cards is one of authoritarian overreach. The US founders valued ideals of freedom and liberty. The image of checkpoints that verify your papers and give you the go-ahead to travel freely hardly scream “free country.”
These measures come with good intentions. However, they certainly resemble troubling authoritarian tendencies.
COVID-19 Time Table
This weekend is likely to see the United States’ peak in infected cases and deaths from COVID-19. Once the US has seen deaths fall for fourteen consecutive days, experts agree this is the time to begin relaxing social distancing measures.
In the last three weeks, social distancing has remarkably reduced the number of predicted deaths from the virus. Hopefully by the end of April, the country will have beaten back the worst of the pandemic.