Italy considers a return to normal—for people with the ‘right’ coronavirus antibodies

| | April 7, 2020
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

There is a growing sense in Italy that the worst may have passed.

That glimmer of hope has turned the conversation to the daunting challenge of when and how to reopen without setting off another cataclysmic wave of contagion. …

Having the right antibodies to the virus in one’s blood — a potential marker of immunity — may soon determine who gets to work and who does not, who is locked down and who is free.

But at some stage, nearly all governments will have to strike a balance between ensuring public safety and getting their countries running again. They may also find themselves weighing what is best for society against individual rights, using biological criteria in ways that almost certainly would be rejected absent the current emergency.

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“It looks like it splits humanity into two, the strong and the weak,” said Michela Marzano, a professor of moral philosophy at the Paris Descartes University. “But this is actually the case.”

From an ethical perspective, she argued, the question of using antibodies as a basis for free movement reconciles a utilitarian vision of what is best for society with respect for individual humanity by protecting “the most fragile, not marginalizing them.”

“It’s not discriminating,” she said. “It’s protecting.”

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