‘Those with antibodies should be quarantine exempt’

Epidemiologist Benjamin Cowling says people who test positive for Covid antibodies should be exempt from doing quarantine.

The professor from the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health says Covid patients are usually discharged from hospital when they have antibodies, so it doesn’t make sense to quarantine people in the same situation.

“If they did have Covid and they were in a hospital, once they show up with antibodies they can be discharged and so it doesn’t really make sense to me that when people come in from outside, or if they’re close contacts, if they have antibodies then they’re not allowed to be exempt from quarantine,” he said.

Cowling said there was a logistical challenge in being able to test for antibodies as a blood draw may be needed, along with the equipment and laboratory staff. But he said it would be possible to ramp up these tests in the same way as the government did for swab testing for the virus.

“That would stimulate vaccine uptake,” he said.

According to the government, 23.7 percent of Hong Kong’s total population have had one vaccine shot, and 17.1 percent two.