IATA have released criteria and recommendations for COVID-19 testing as part of the air travel process. These are based on ICAO recommendations. The target is to deploy solutions that provide, speed, scale and accuracy.
The current go to solution is Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing which currently meets non of these. The issue is it can take 3-24 hours to get a result, requires laboratories, skilled staff and lots of reagents and are relatively costly.
Some airports are establishing test centers to facilitate travelers who are heading to a destination that require proof of a recent test. However, travelers are paying heavy prices ranging from $60-$200 per PCR test and are subject to long wait times for results which, if not processed on time, will mean a missed flight. Accuracy is also a concern with the standard required being extremely high with both false negative and false positive results needing to be below 1%.
As we have posted before LAMP testing provided by TravelSafe Solutions (TTS) meets the IATA requirements and more.
Speed: test results are given within 30-45 minutes and immediately updates a passengers iWarrant enabling instant integration with airport security, border control and boarding processes.
Scale: because TTS deploy machines at point of test, our solution is highly scalable. This is unlike PCR where there needs to be a lab infrastructure deployed behind the point-of-test. The near-term scalability is approximately 2.5M tests per month being achievable but there is engagement to improve this through licensed manufacture and dedicated resources to build out the medical testing capability. This can scale to 10M per month quite quickly. Beyond that will depend on cross government collaboration and licence manufacture which is in plan and achievable.
Accuracy: Because TSS is using LAMP technology the accuracy is very high thereby reducing the risk of false positives and negatives to the extent that it is almost eliminated. Current clinical outputs show a sensitivity of 2 copies of the SARS-CoV-2 virus per millionth of a litre of sample with zero false positives when tested against 6 other common coronaviruses.
In addition to meeting IATA’s criteria the costs per test is in the region of $40-50 and can come down with volumes. Deploying TTS machines creates a leave-behind test infrastructure that can be used to test for other known and as yet unknown pathogens.
When you add the integration into iWarrant and the touch-less flow through an airport then the overall value proposition to protect travelers, airport staff and flight crew is very compelling.
Nation states should be encouraged to collaborate and hold each other responsible to create the safest travel environment as possible. This might start by revisiting some of inter-country travel restrictions and on arrival testing and quarantine demands. The measures are ineffective and the economic pain of a stalled travel economy are very painful.
If one country takes the first step and tests all travelers on departure, then asks for a reciprocal agreement, this creates a bio-security capability that helps create defense-in-depth, through multiple protective layers, that push out the national defensive perimeter for both states.
This can make travel safe again.