Should people without coronavirus antibodies be second-class citizens?

It’s too easy to imagine antibody tests becoming a new form of discrimination: Employers might insist on antibody certificates simply to minimize absenteeism or medical costs among their workers; employees might find it easier to work with colleagues who have antibody certificates rather than to continue with face masks and social distancing. Workers in grocery stores and other essential services have already taken risks by working throughout the crisis; imagine if they lost their jobs for want of an antibody certificate.

It would be one thing for an antibody certificate to, say, exempt a person from the need to wear a mask, but quite another to allow employers to insist on a certificate as a cheaper alternative to testing, enforced social distancing and other preventive measures. An antibody certificate should not relieve businesses of their duty to ensure the safety of their staffs and customers. Nor should it be used to restrict travel and other liberties when less discriminatory precautions are available.

The norm should be for one’s antibody status to be a tool for enhancing the risks that a person voluntarily feels comfortable assuming rather than a mark to limit the possibilities that government allows.