Germans could soon be issued with ‘immunity certificates’ which will allow them to leave the country’s coronavirus lockdown earlier than the rest of the population if they test positive for antibodies to the virus.
States across Germany are currently in lockdown with strict quarantines imposed in some parts of the country.
However, German Researchers at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig soon plan to send out hundreds of thousands of antibody tests over the coming weeks which could allow many thousands of people to break free of the lockdowns, Der Spiegel magazine reported.
The tests are designed to detect whether an individual has developed antibodies to COVID-19, indicating that they have at one time been a carrier and built up immunity.
A positive test could allow individual Germans to leave the lockdown, or allow the national government to ease restrictions in areas where so-called “herd immunity” has been developed.
“Those who are immune could be given a type of vaccination card that, for example, allows them to be exempted from [Coronavirus-related] restrictions on their work,” Gerard Krause, the epidemiologist leading the project, told the magazine.
If approved, the project will test 100,000 members of the public at a time starting in early April, with immunity certificates potentially allowing the public to gradually return to public spaces over the coming weeks and months.
Germany has one of the lowest death rates for the coronavirus in the world, which some experts and commentators have credited to the extensive testing regime rolled out by Angel Merkel’s government.
The United Kingdom also has similar plans to roll out antibody-testing in order to loosen its own coronavirus lockdown.
Boris Johnson’s government has ordered more than 17 million coronavirus home-testing kits, which if approved for use, could be sent out to frontline workers over the coming weeks, as well as being made available for purchase in pharmacists and online retailers like Amazon.
However, coronavirus testing has so far been used with mixed success around the world.
Spain was recently forced to return tens of thousands of rapid coronavirus tests from a Chinese company after they were found to have only a 30% accuracy.
Some tests have also reportedly demonstrated false positives, where they have detected antibodies to other much more common forms of the coronavirus.