A recent study commissioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed that Covid-19 rapid antigen testing should be able to 'safely reopen' international travel
The report from OXERA-Edge Health found that rapid antigen tests are just as effective as PCR tests when identifying the Covid-19 virus. The findings support that high performing rapid antigen tests can be a successful alternative to PCR tests when travelling.
Not only can rapid antigen tests deliver results very quickly – some return results within 20 minutes – they are also up to 60% less expensive than PCR tests, making them more attractive to travellers who have to take multiple tests throughout their journey.
In addition, they are also easy to administer and do not need specialist equipment to process. The report also highlights the fact that PCR tests aren’t as readily available – the current scarcity of PCR tests in the UK would only cover 25% of 2019 passenger levels.
As a result of the study, IATA is urging global governments to allow rapid antigen testing rather than PCR testing within their entry requirements for international travel.
IATA’s CEO Alexandre de Juniac commented:
“We are already seeing rapid testing becoming commonplace in non-travel settings such as schools and workplaces. Extending its use to travel is a logical step. Science backs this up. In real world conditions, antigen testing is as effective as PCR testing in reducing the risk of cross-border transmission. Meanwhile the cost and bureaucracy of PCR tests adds huge burdens to families and businesses looking to travel. These are important considerations in preparing for a successful re-start.”
“Restarting international aviation will energize the economic recovery from Covid-19. Along with vaccines, testing will play a critical role in giving governments the confidence to re-open their borders to travelers. For governments, the top priority is accuracy. But travelers will also need tests to be convenient and affordable. The Oxera-Edge Health report tells us that the best-in-class antigen tests can tick all these boxes. It’s important for governments to consider these findings as they make plans for a re-start.”