Passengers and CISF personnel seen wearing face masks as a precautionary measure amid rising coronavirus concerns, at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, in Amritsar. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times)
Passengers and CISF personnel seen wearing face masks as a precautionary measure amid rising coronavirus concerns, at Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport, in Amritsar. (Photo by Sameer Sehgal/Hindustan Times)

‘Corona immune people’ valuable, key to restart economy: Researchers

Covid-19: The study states that people who have survived Covid-19 are largely immune and the probability of them contracting the same virus a second time within a few years and passing on the disease is small
By Neeraj Chauhan | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON APR 22, 2020 04:10 PM IST

As nations stare at a crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, a group of economic experts from Europe has argued hundreds of thousands of people who were infected and are immune are a key resource from a social perspective and for restarting economic activity.

The researchers have advocated this vital resource of “corona immune people” must be looked for, employed effectively or reinstated in all activities, including societal activities such as caring for the elderly and sick, issued immunity certificates by governments and even sent to countries with peak healthcare demand.

The research paper titled “Certified corona immunity as a resource and strategy to cope with pandemic costs”, published by Switzerland-based Centre for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA), states people who have survived the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) are largely immune and the probability of them contracting the same virus a second time within a few years and passing on the disease is small, and hence they should be treated as a resource.

The researchers – David Stadelmann (University of Bayreuth, Germany), Reiner Eichenberger (University of Fribourg, Switzerland), Rainer Hegselmann (Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, Germany), David Savage (University of Newcastle, Australia) and Benno Torgler (Queensland University of Technology), have predicted those countries which treat their corona-immune people as a resource are expected to perform comparatively better than others, and engagement of corona-immune people is necessary for a controlled exit from lockdowns.

“There are now potentially millions of people (worldwide) who have been infected with the Coronavirus and who are now immune. Their immunity makes each of them individually a valuable resource in the fight against the virus, a resource that grows as the number of people infected increases,” the research paper states.

“Antibodies from immune people might even be used to produce blood serum as a potential treatment. Moreover, from a societal perspective, the larger the stock of persons with immunity, the lower the risk of infection for the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

The paper further states: “As the number of immune people grows, restrictions on all but the most vulnerable can be gradually relaxed. Those who are already immune could go back to their economic and social activity immediately and could even provide active support to the healthcare system. Their engagement and contribution to society and the economy would reduce the risk of overburdening the healthcare system and would reduce the potential for social breakdown.”

One non-profit organisation, the “The Corona Immunity Initiative” has been started in Switzerland. It enables targeted “at home” testing of the population for SARS-COV-2 immunity and will allow the organisation to gather information on the spread of the virus and level of immunity in the general population. An email sent to the Corona Immunity Initiative remained unanswered.

CREMA researchers have concluded that due to complete lockdowns and self-isolation, the world is on the brink of a second very real crisis, and this hasn’t been caused by the Coronavirus but by decision-makers and societal reaction to the pandemic.

Quoting one of the hypotheses from the research, David Stadelmann told HT: “The side effects of societal infections could be vast. Unfortunately, it will be difficult to distinguish whether the cure may have been worse than the disease. However, there are sectors where the negative side effects of government measures against the crisis can be easily investigated.

“For instance, we expect online gambling, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorces, obesity and suicides of non‐infected people to increase. We also expect shadow market activities to increase.”

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