Tag Archives: Health Passport

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Findings Dim Hopes For ‘Herd Immunity’ And Impetus Behind ‘Immunity Passports’

A closer look at people who tested positive for COVID-19 but never developed symptoms has found that such asymptomatic carriers have few to no detectable antibodies just weeks after infection, suggesting they may not develop lasting immunity.

There’s growing evidence that a significant proportion of people who test positive for COVID-19 never show symptoms, although it’s not clear what percentage of people that is and what role they play in spreading the disease.

A Chinese study published this week in Nature followed 37 people in Wanzhou District in China who did not show any outward signs of the disease, despite testing positive when their respiratory tracts were swabbed and being kept in hospital for observation.

Some key findings include:

  • Levels of antibodies against COVID-19 were significantly lower in asymptomatic carriers than those with symptoms during active infection.
  • Antibody levels also dropped off far more quickly in people who never showed symptoms, and 40 per cent of them had no detectable antibodies eight weeks after recovery, compared with 13 per cent of symptomatic patients.
  • Those with asymptomatic infections tested positive for an average of five days longer than people with symptomatic infections — 19 days compared with 14 days — suggesting that they were shedding the virus longer.

The study also found that despite having no outward symptoms, 70 per cent had lung abnormalities detectable in X-rays at some point during infection — mostly spots called “ground-glass opacities,” which can indicate inflammation or other signs of disease.

No antibodies could mean no immunity, but not necessarily

Dr. Samir Gupta, a clinician-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto and assistant professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, noted in an interview with CBC News Network earlier this week that the study was very small.

Gupta, who wasn’t involved in the study, added that it wasn’t surprising that antibody levels fell a few months after infection. He said that’s normal, since it’s energy intensive for the body to maintain antibodies it doesn’t need.

What was “a little bit surprising,” he said, was the fact that 40 per cent of people with asymptomatic infections had no detectable antibodies at all.

However, Gupta said, people have immunity to coronaviruses that cause common colds for only a few months, and that may also be the case for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

On the other hand, he said, “antibodies aren’t the whole story.”

There are other components of the immune system that play a role, such as memory cells. They remember a pathogen and begin releasing antibodies when they encounter it again, but they are hard to detect, Gupta said.

What this means for herd immunity and vaccines

Still, Tania Watts, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto who was not involved in the study, expressed concern about the implications.

“This suggests that natural infection may not give long-lasting immunity, which is what people have been worried about,” she said.

Some countries such as Sweden and at least one Canadian province have previously suggested that one way to control the spread of COVID-19 is to allow most of the population to get infected in a controlled fashion to generate “herd immunity.” Once the population reaches a certain threshold of previous infection, there won’t be enough susceptible people to spread the virus, and it can’t spread exponentially as an epidemic.

But Watts said the low and short-lived levels of antibodies in asymptomatic infections in this study suggest we can’t rely on herd immunity being induced for long enough a period of time to have an impact.

That means we may need to wait for a vaccine that induces a stronger, longer-lived response than many natural infections, she said. “I think this puts even more pressure on vaccine development.”

What this means for antibody tests, ‘immunity passports’

Watts said another implication of the study is that serological (blood) or antibody tests — which have been touted as a way to get an idea of who has been previously infected, how much of the population that represents and how close that is to herd immunity — may not work as hoped.

And it throws cold water on the idea of controversial “immunity passports,” the idea of allowing more social interactions, such as work, travel and mass gatherings, for people who have previously been infected and therefore are immune and can’t spread the virus — which would be based on serological testing. 

“Until we know what part of the immune system is protective,” Watts said, “it’s difficult to be able to do a test and tell someone you’re safe or not.”

What this means for disease transmission

While it’s known that presymptomatic people can transmit COVID-19, it’s not really known whether people who remain asymptomatic through the course of the disease can.

Watts said she thinks the finding in this study that people without symptoms shed the virus longer than people with symptoms is “shocking” and suggests we need to worry about transmission from asymptomatic people.

“Until we have a vaccine, I think we should have very clear recommendations that everybody wears masks.”

She said the longer period of viral shedding is probably because a lack of symptoms indicate a weaker immune response, resulting in a longer time to clear the infection.

On the other hand, too intense an immune response is what puts patients in the ICU struggling to breathe.

The ideal is somewhere in between and what we’d like in a vaccine, Watts said.

“We really need that Goldilocks immune response.”

Source: by Emily Chung, Christine Birak, Marcy CuttlerCBC News 

Mass-Tracking COVI-PASS Health Passports To Roll Across The U.S. And 14 Other Countries

Through the magic of Internet meme culture, most Millennials will be familiar with the famous opening scene of the 1942 film, “Casablanca,” where two policemen stop a civilian in the “old Moorish section” of Nazi-occupied French Morocco and ask him for his “papers.” The subject is taken away at once after failing to produce the required documents. The cinematic exchange has been used ever since as a popular reference to the ever-encroaching hand of the state, which is now on the verge of attaining a level of control over people’s movements that puts the crude Nazi methods to shame.

A British cybersecurity company, in partnership with several tech firms, is rolling out the COVI-PASS in 15 countries across the world; a “digital health passport” that will contain your COVID-19 test history and other “relevant health information.” According to the company website, the passport’s objective is “to safely return to work” and resume “social interactions” by providing authorities with “up-to-date and authenticated health information.”

These objectives mirror those that Bill Gates has been promoting since the start of the COVID-19 lock down. In an essay written by Gates in April, the software geek-cum-philanthropist lays out his support for the draconian measures taken in response to the virus and, like an old-timey mob boss, suggests the solutions to this deliberately imposed problem. Ironically, Gates begins to make his case for the adoption of mass tracking and surveillance technology in the U.S. by saying that “For now, the United States can follow Germany’s example”; He then touts the advantages of the “voluntary adoption of digital tools” so we can “remember where [we] have been” and can “choose to share it with whoever comes to interview you about your contacts.”

Gates goes on to predict that the ability to attend public events in the near future will depend on the discovery of an effective treatment. But he remains pessimistic that any such cure will be good enough in the short term to make people “feel safe to go out again.” These warnings by the multi-billionaire dovetail perfectly with the stated purposes of the aforementioned COVI-PASS, whose development is also being carried out in partnership with Redstrike Group – a sports marketing consultancy firm that is working with England’s Premier League and their Project Restart to parse ticket sales and only make them available to people who have tested negative for the virus.

VST Enterprises goes viral

VST Enterprises Ltd (VSTE) is led by 31-year old entrepreneur, Louis-James Davis, who very recently stepped down from a “science & technology ambassadorship” in the African nation of Zimbabwe to focus on the company’s role in the UN’s SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) Collaboratory initiative, comprising a series of “cyber technology projects across all 193 member states of the United Nations.”

These will use the same proprietary VCode and VPlatform technologies underpinning the COVI-PASS that will reportedly tackle issues such as illegal mining and counterfeiting. This “third generation” bar code technology overcomes the limitations of older “second generation” versions like QR-codes, according to Davis. “Data and sensitive information scanned or stored in either a QR code and bar code can be hacked and are inherently insecure,” Davis claims, “leaving data and personal details to be compromised.” These, and other flaws of the prevailing “proximity apps” were exploited by VST Enterprises to position itself to land large government and private sector contracts.

By all measures, the strategy has proven wildly successful and VST now enjoys strong favor in the highest circles of the UK government as evidenced by the ringing endorsement of former Prime Minister Theresa May, prominently displayed on the COVI-PASS website. More practically, VST now has a direct partnership with the UK government and has secured contracts to deploy its technology in 15 countries, including Italy, Portugal, France, India, the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Spain, South Africa, Mexico, United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

In May, VST signed a deal with international digital health technology firm and owner of COVI-PASS, Circle Pass Enterprises (CPE) to integrate VST’s VCode into the biometric RFID-enabled “passports” which can be accessed via mobile phone or a key fob will flash colored lights to denote if an individual has tested negative, positive or is to be denied entry to public locations. Awarded the ‘Seal of Excellence’ by the EU, VCode® technology will ensure that all of our most sensitive personal and health information can be accessed by authorities at a distance, dispensing with messy and potentially dangerous face-to-face encounters with police or other enforcement personnel.

Infusing the narrative

So far, the concerns over the digital health passport’s threat to freedom and privacy have been lukewarm at best and it seems as if the world has already accepted that full-fledged population control methods such as these will simply be a fact of life. While the coronavirus pandemic has certainly done much to bring the public over to this way of thinking, the campaign to normalize this sort of Orwellian power-grab has been ongoing for many years and Bill Gates – who many media outlets have whitewashed out of stories related to these measures – has been at the forefront of its promotion.

The Innovation for Uptake, Scale and Equity in Immunization (INFUSE) project was launched in Davos, Switzerland in 2016. The program was developed by an organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation called GAVI (The Vaccine Alliance), which has been calling for a digital health ID for children along with partners in the broader !D2020 initiative like the Rockefeller Foundation and Microsoft.

In a recent interview, the deputy director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Hassan Damluji, derided the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic was in any way subsiding and even warned that, far from receding, the pandemic was “deep into wave three.” His remarks were specifically targeted to the very regions he oversees for the foundation, which include the Middle East and parts of Asia, which he stressed would be the focus of the next wave. Damluji was “most recently involved in a five-year fundraising cycle for GAVI,” an effort led by Saudi Arabia, whose investment he praised as a powerful “signal [that] others had an obligation to follow.”

Gates concludes his editorial with a comparison to World War II, stating that said conflict was a “defining moment of our parents’ generation” as the COVID-19 pandemic is to ours, implying that the changes taking place now are akin to the Allied forces’ defeat of the Third Reich. Except, of course, that immunity passports or digital health certificates sound exactly like what Hitler wished for the most. After all, wasn’t the idea of a superior race based on considerations of superior health and vitality over the ostensibly sick and unfit? Hard to argue against the idea that a universal health passport is nothing less than the ultimate fulfillment of that dystopian nightmare.

Source: by Raul Diego | Mint Press News