Dr. Anthony Fauci confirmed Friday the idea of Americans carrying “certificates of immunity” is being considered as a possibility to identify people who have been infected with the coronavirus and help reopen the U.S. economy in the coming weeks.
“Can you imagine a time where Americans carry certificates of immunity?” CNN “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota asked Fauci during an interview Friday.
“You know, that’s possible,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, replied.
“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.”
He added, “This is something that’s being discussed. I think it might actually have some merit, under certain circumstances.”
The proposal is contingent on the success of widespread antibody testing, which Fauci said could be available in “a week or so.”
“If their antibody test is positive, one can formulate strategies about whether or not they would be at risk or vulnerable to getting re-infected,” Fauci said.
The results of these tests would be especially important for health care workers to know if they could be protected from the virus after exposure.
“But as we look forward, as we get to the point of at least considering opening up the country as it were, it’s very important to appreciate and to understand how much that virus has penetrated this society,” Fauci said.
“Because it’s very likely that there are a large number of people out there that have been infected, have been asymptomatic and did not know they were infected.”
The United States is not the only country considering this proposal of certificates of immunity. The idea has been implemented by researchers in Germany and floated by the United Kingdom and Italy, according to Politico.
Fauci cautioned that the antibody tests still need to be validated.
“Other countries have gotten burned by this. These antibody tests are tests that we do on other diseases, but they need to be validated, you need to make sure that they’re consistent and that they’re accurate,” he said.
“As soon as they get validated, they will be out there for people to use.”
Fauci also emphasized that the virus will decide when it is appropriate to reopen the economy.
“What we’re seeing right now are some favorable signs,” Fauci said, pointing to a flattening and turning around of cases in New York.
“We would want to see, I would want to see, a clear indication that you’re very, very clearly and strongly going in the right direction because the one thing you don’t want to do is you don’t want to get out there prematurely and then wind up you’re right back in the same situation.”