Wed 13 May 2020:
As the coronavirus pandemic plunges economies around the world into recession, governments and businesses are scrambling to find ways to get people back to work. One tool many are banking on is the antibody test.
The hope is that people who have been infected with the virus may have developed enough antibodies to make them immune to the virus and their return to work safe, though the science around this is far from settled. Some governments have even mulled issuing “immunity passports” or certificates for those who test positive.
But experts warn that going down this route could create new problems, including discrimination in workplaces, or people deliberately trying to get infected so they can return to their jobs sooner, “playing Russian roulette” with their lives, as one doctor put it.
In a brief by scientific advisers to the UK government published last week, experts said widespread antibody testing could incentivize employers to take steps that would amount to discrimination.
“THIS MIGHT INCLUDE NOT PERMITTING THOSE TESTING ANTIBODY NEGATIVE TO RETURN TO WORK, OR ONLY TAKING ON NEW STAFF WITH ANTIBODY POSITIVE TEST RESULTS,” THE BRIEF READS.
Certain tasks, like customer-facing work, could end up only being allocated to those who tested positive.
“In some circumstances this may be appropriate, but in others this might constitute adverse discrimination,” the brief said.
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