PEOPLE who have already had coronavirus shouldn’t have to isolate even if they develop symptoms again, Sage scientists have said.
The Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies have studied evidence that found people who develop antibodies to the virus can’t be infected again shortly afterwards.
Scientists have previously said the evidence on immunity isn’t there yet – and have stressed even if you have antibodies it might not stop you being reinfected.
But experts at a Sage meeting last month, chaired by chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance found there was enough evidence to allow people who have already tested positive to skip self-isolate if they get sick again, according to The i newspaper.
The experts said if someone has tested positive with a coronavirus swab test and an antibody tests, which shows if you’re previously been infected they are “must less likely to be infectious”.
They added: “This offers a way forward for releasing individuals from self-isolation or quarantine.”
The recommendation bolsters evidence in favour of the idea of “immunity passports” floated by ministers.
It could mean people who have recovered from coronavirus would not have to obey social distancing and get back to their normal lives – even if they show symptoms again.
Although the evidence Sage looked at is promising – they have warned it would be too soon to allow those rules to be brought.
Minutes from the meeting said: “Sage advised that, based on current understanding, it would be premature to introduce immunity passports, but it advised that use of antibody positivity for short-term decisions may be possible.”
The findings are based on a paper from Wendy Barclay and Peter Openshaw of Imperial College.
Based on animal experiments the scientists found even if people are reinfected with coronavirus their symptoms will probably be much less extreme.
A Whitehall source said a shortage of tests poses a problem for so-called immunity passports.
Those who have tested positive for antibodies by tests made available for private purchase are not reliable enough for ministers to make decision on.
But the Government is hoping to make the higher-accuracy tests widely available in the coming months.
One of the biggest studies on immunity to coronavirus in the UK unearthed worrying evidence showing resistance to the disease could disappear after only a few months even if people do develop antibodies.
The Department for Health said: “We are always looking at and guided by the latest scientific advice.
“This is a new disease and how the immune system responds following infection with the virus remains uncertain.
“We are undertaking some of the largest studies in the world to assess the strength and duration of immunity, including monitoring the number of people presenting with an antibody response and how this changes over time.”