The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search

Warning over virus immunity as global death toll passes 200,000

Warning over virus immunity as global death toll passes 200,000

WORLD: The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday (Apr 25) warned that recovering from coronavirus might not protect people from reinfection as the death toll from the pandemic surpassed 200,000 around the globe.


Sunday 26 April 2020, 12:14PM

More than half of humanity is on some form of lockdown or stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the virus. Photo: AFP

More than half of humanity is on some form of lockdown or stay-at-home order to stop the spread of the virus. Photo: AFP

Governments are struggling to limit the economic devastation unleashed by the virus, which has left half of humanity under some form of lockdown and reported infections approaching three million.

The United Nations has joined world leaders to speed up development of a vaccine, but effective treatments for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, are still far off.

But with signs the disease is peaking in the US and Europe, governments are starting to ease restrictions, weighing the need for economic recovery against cautions that lifting them too soon risks a second wave of infections.

The WHO warned yesterday that there was still no evidence that people who test positive for the new coronavirus and recover are immunised and protected against reinfection.

The warning came as some governments study measures such as “immunity passports” or documents for those who have recovered as one way to get people back to work after weeks of economic shutdown.

“There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection,” WHO said in a statement.

“People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice,” it said.

With more than four billion people still on lockdown or stay-at-home orders, governments are debating how to steadily lift curbs, reopen schools, restart businesses and reboot economies without causing a spike in virus cases.

Some of that discussion centres on new mobile phone apps to alert people to infections, mass antibody testing - to determine who has had the virus and may be immune - and the public use of facemasks to stop transmission.

“If I’ve already had corona then I’m not infectious,” said Berlin resident Lothar Kopp, hoping to test positive for antibodies as it could allow him to visit his elderly mother.

Germany has carried out tens of thousands of tests and other countries are also working on determining what may be their so-called level of immunity.

But on Friday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for international organisations, world leaders and the private sector to join an unprecedented effort to speed up development and distribution of a vaccine.

“We face a global public enemy like no other,” the UN chief told a virtual briefing. “A world free of COVID-19 requires the most massive public health effort in history.”

Any vaccine should be safe, affordable and available to all, Guterres said at the meeting, which was attended by the leaders of Germany and France.

Absent though were the leaders of China, where the virus first emerged late last year, and the United States, which has accused the WHO of not warning quickly enough about the original outbreak.

Early stages

The daily death toll in Western countries seems to be falling, a sign hopeful epidemiologists had been looking for, but the WHO has warned that other nations are still in the early stages of the fight.

Global COVID-19 deaths have climbed past 203,000 but new reported cases appear to have levelled off at about 80,000 a day.

The United States is the hardest-hit country by far in the pandemic, recording more than 51,500 deaths and over 890,000 detected infections.


In a sign of potential risks of reopening, Iranian health officials yesterday also raised fears of a “fresh outbreak” with another 76 fatalities declared, bringing Iran’s official death toll to 5,650.

Iran has steadily allowed the restarting of businesses that were closed to stop the virus spread. But Alireza Zali, a health coordinator for the capital, criticised “hasty reopenings” that could “create new waves of sickness in Tehran”.

The UN push for a quick vaccine came a day after US President Donald Trump prompted outcry and ridicule with his suggestion that disinfectants be used to treat coronavirus patients.

As experts, and disinfectant manufacturers, rushed to caution against any such dangerous experiment, the president tried to row back on his comments, saying he had been speaking “sarcastically”.

The world’s biggest economy has been hammered by the pandemic, with 26 million jobs lost since the crisis began, and US leaders are under pressure to find ways to ease social distancing measures.

The governor of Georgia allowed some businesses, including nail salons and bowling alleys, to reopen on Friday.

The mayor of the state’s capital Atlanta condemned the “irresponsible” move, telling ABC News: “There is nothing essential about going to a bowling alley or giving a manicure in the middle of a pandemic.”

Lifting lockdown

The unprecedented situation has left the world staring at its worst downturn since the Great Depression, and beyond the US, other countries have already started loosening restrictions to get back to work.

Italy - with the second highest virus death toll at nearly 30,000 - announced plans yesterday to set price limits on face masks and ramp up antibody testing as it nears the end of the world’s longest active national coronavirus lockdown.

Italians are awaiting a decision this weekend about which of its restrictions will be lifted and they will probably be allowed to leave their homes freely for the first time since March 9 by early May.

Some professional Italian cyclists like Umberto Marengo have already adapted to long lockdown by turning to making food deliveries on his bike across the northern city of Turin as a way to stay fit and help out.

“The customers are all amazed,” Marengo said. “Especially since I always try to go up by the stairs to stay that little bit fitter.”

Sri Lanka said it would lift a nationwide curfew tomorrow after more than five weeks, as Belgium joined other European nations to announce an easing from mid-May.

In France, which will be on lockdown until May 11, residents still confined to home have taken to praising health workers and protesting their frustrations with officials on painted banners hung outside their windows.

“Thank you to the caregivers, shame on the leaders” read one banner hanging outside a building in a Paris suburb.

On the other side of the world in Australia and New Zealand, people held vigils from the isolation of their own driveways to pay tribute to their war veterans on Anzac Day. Official memorials were behind closed doors.

Across the Muslim world, hundreds of millions of faithful also opened the Ramadan holy month under stay-at-home conditions, facing unprecedented bans on prayers in mosques and on the traditional large gatherings of families and friends to break the daily fast.

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.


Be the first to comment.


Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Phuket beach cleanup nets 40kg of trash

Dekaaskop@ correct it’s not enforced at Naiharn I see a couple of Farang gents clearing them up ev...(Read More)

Phuket beach cleanup nets 40kg of trash

I don’t see Thais smoking on the beaches leaving their cigarette butts to wash out to sea where th...(Read More)

Truck slams into concrete barrier at bottom of Patong Hill

At this point don't even say "brake failure" in articles. We all just assume that'...(Read More)

Phuket’s latest COVID cases deemed inconclusive as doctors report ‘dead virus’

lolo@ it’s also plausible that they were infected after already recovering - the second infection ...(Read More)

Phuket’s latest COVID cases deemed inconclusive as doctors report ‘dead virus’

nongku74 @ that’s correct there is no ban on fishing only gatherings on the beaches I got this fro...(Read More)

Phuket bus relaunch delayed

The GOOD reason is, the ruling authorities now use the Emergency Decree to give the population a per...(Read More)

Malls set to open for longer

The risk to get infected in cinemas, gyms, boxing schools, shopping malls is far greater than getti...(Read More)

Truck slams into concrete barrier at bottom of Patong Hill

It was about time that a idiot overturned his to heavy loaded truck on Patong Hill. Of course, sa...(Read More)

Truck slams into concrete barrier at bottom of Patong Hill

another brake failure, not an idiot driver going too fast...(Read More)

Tourism and Sports Ministry seeks to lift domestic lockdown

Seems to be a lot of acronyms in this story...they missed one (OABN) Open all Bussineses Now!...(Read More)