British Airways to trial 25 second Covid-19 tests for travel

The airline is the first in the world to trial the ultra-rapid technology that can detect the coronavirus in under half a minute

British Airways is trialling 25-second rapid Covid-19 tests with digital result delivery. Courtesy BA
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British Airways will be the first airline in the world to trial Covid-19 antigen tests that display results within 25 seconds.

The UK airline is conducting the trial alongside medical tech company Canary Global, to assess how its Pelican Covid-19 Ultra Rapid mobile test can play a role in opening up travel.

British Airways' (BA) flight and cabin crew will be invited to take the test and the airline will compare the performance of the results against existing tests that crew are already taking.

Recently approved for use in Europe and UK, the test is currently going through an approval process in the US.

British Airways will initially be inviting flight and cabin crew members to take the rapid test, with the airline comparing the results against their standard Covid-19 test results. Courtesy BA

BA hopes to be able to offer the testing technology on applicable routes where tests have to meet the stated specificity and sensitivity standards.

Sean Doyle, chief executive at BA, said: “As we start to see the opening up of travel we remain committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again, whether it’s for business, to reunite with family and friends or take a much-needed break abroad.

"We think this new ultrarapid test is a game changer so we are delighted to work with the team at Canary to begin initial trials with our flight and cabin crew, before exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.”

How does the Pelican Covid-19 Ultra-Rapid test work?

The Pelican Covid-19 Ultra Rapid test involves a simple saliva swab that can detect symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2, including variants. Courtesy BA

The test is a non-invasive saliva ultrarapid digital antigen test that delivers 98 per cent sensitivity and 100 per cent specificity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2.

To use the test, crew will take a sample of their saliva into a disposable sensor unit, shake and insert it into a reusable digital reader which is connected to a blue-tooth enabled device like a smartphone. The results will then appear in the mobile app. The test is also optimised to detect variants of the virus that have originated across the globe.

British Airways is also trialling a new health app called VeriFLY. Designed to help travellers ensure they meet the entry requirements of their destination before they depart for the airport, the airline is set to trial the app for travellers flying to New York, Miami or San-Francisco.