The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has raised concerns that Covid-19 testing requirements will slow the recovery of the tourism industry unless changes are made.
They have urged governments to accept best-in-class rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 testing rather than PCR tests.
Covid-19 testing requirements for travellers are currently fragmented. Many governments do not allow rapid testing and PCR tests often come with significant cost and in many parts of the world are hard to access.
IATA commissioned research by OXERA and Edge Health concluded that rapid antigen tests provided the security of accurate testing, were more accessible had a much lower cost than PCR testing with much, much faster results.
The report said that the cost impact of PCR testing will reduce demand by an average of 65%. Replacing PCR with antigen testing would still have a cost impact on demand, but with a 30% impact.
The OXERA-Edge Health report concluded that antigen tests are:
- Accurate: the best antigen tests provide broadly comparable results to PCR tests in accurately identifying infected travelers. The BinaxNOW antigen test, for example, misses just one positive case in 1,000 travellers (based on an infection rate of 1% among travellers). It has similarly comparable performance to PCR tests in levels of false negatives.
- Convenient: processing times for antigen tests are 100 times faster than for PCR testing
- Cost-efficient: antigen tests are, on average, 60% cheaper than PCR tests.
A number of rapid, less invasive, testing solutions are under development and testing throughout the world. These solutions would be a significant boost to many industries including travel if they are proven to be accurate and are cost effective.
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