Being infected with the virus could come with more freedom
A new type of test uses a small blood sample to look for the presence of coronavirus antibodies.
In one version of the future, a new type of test that measures antibodies would help restore a sense of normalcy for some people even as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. With the right antibodies, some may be immune to the virus, unable to get sick or spread the virus to others. Widespread testing for these antibodies could pave the way for so-called immunity certificates, which would allow people who have already been exposed to the virus to return to public life.
But the hope may be dashed by significant scientific and ethical concerns. For starters, diagnostic testing is already extremely limited in the United States, to say nothing of the more experimental antibody testing. Experts worry that antibody testing isn’t guaranteed to prove immunity. And if it does, the resulting immunity passports could be used to discriminate against untested people and those who aren’t immune — in the workplace, for example. That could lead people to intentionally expose themselves to Covid-19, banking on the hope that they’ll survive and earn the documentation they need to reenter society.