People might deliberately try to get infected for an immunity passport

The use of coronavirus immunity passports has raised concerns about people ‘gaming’ the system by deliberately attempting to get infected, or buying a fake test result.

A paper about possible negative responses to antibody testing, considered by the scientific advisory group for emergencies (Sage) at its April 14 meeting, was released today.

It suggested workers who had developed antibodies to Covid-19 could be given riskier frontline roles, might be more likely to ignore government guidance and could try to dupe the system to gain an immunity certificate.

The paper suggested employers might ‘actively discriminate’ against workers who were not shown to have antibodies.

It said: ‘Some employers may discriminate on the basis of antibody status. This might include not permitting those testing antibody negative to return to work or only taking on new staff with antibody positive test results.

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‘Work may also be allocated among employees based on test status with, for example, customer-facing work being allocated to those who have tested antibody positive.

‘In some circumstances this may be appropriate, but in others this might constitute adverse discrimination. This risk applies across all occupational sectors.’

The paper, drawn up by the scientific pandemic influenza group on behaviour (SPI-B), added there may be ‘reduced adherence to transmission-reducing behaviours’, such as regular hand washing, in those who have tested positive for Covid-19 antibodies because they believe they cannot catch it again.

And those who test negative may avoid social contact and returning to work, possibly causing ‘adverse psychological and social outcomes for individuals’, the paper warned.

It also warned about the risk of people trying to ‘game’ the system by attempting to purchase a fake test result or deliberately get infected.

The paper said: ‘If a test result is a requirement for a resumption of work, a range of strategies to ‘game’ the system may arise.

‘These include people deliberately seeking out infection or attempting to purchase a fake test result, commercial organisations selling unapproved tests, or approved tests becoming available through private organisations at prices that make them unavailable to most.’

It comes after it was revealed yesterday facial biometric scanning could be used to get Britain’s economy back on its feet once the country has passed the worst of the pandemic.

Tech firm Onfido is holding high-level talks with Government ministers over the possibility of introducing so-called ‘immunity passports’ which will detail whether someone has or once had the disease.

Tests would combine facial recognition software with Covid-19 immunity checks to provide assurances workers are no longer contagious and can go back to work once lockdown restrictions are eased.

Researchers claim to have created antibody tests which are completely accurate. The new antibody tests, made by the Swiss company Roche Diagnostics, could be ready for widespread use in two weeks, the company said.

The government is currently preparing to publish its seven-point plan to get the country out of lockdown.

Leaked versions of the document show it covers details on how workers could return to work and abandon the two-metre distancing rule so long as other measures to limit the spread of the virus are in place.

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