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Preflight Covid-19 testing is on the rise — the question is whether it works


Can preflight testing get individuals flying once more?

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) thinks so. Last month, the commerce affiliation, which represents some 290 airways round the world, known as for the “development and deployment of rapid, accurate, affordable, easy-to-operate, scalable and systematic” Covid-19 testing for all passengers as a option to restore passenger confidence, bypass quarantines and reopen borders.

Within weeks, United Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue introduced plans to launch preflight testing packages to locations reminiscent of Hawaii, Costa Rica and the Caribbean, relying on the airline.

By that point, Italy’s largest airline, Alitalia, was already working two flights between Rome and Milan for passengers who examined damaging earlier than boarding.

The downside with a single take a look at

Speed vs. accuracy

In calling for preflight testing final month, the IATA mentioned that “deployable solutions are expected in the coming weeks.” Medical specialists say that could be untimely.

Polymerase chain response exams, additionally known as PCR, can extra precisely diagnose constructive circumstances, mentioned Dr. Peter Gulick, an infectious illness professional at Michigan State University. But these exams, which rely on a nasal swap, throat swab or saliva, “are run in a lab so it may take days to come back, and a patient may get infected during that time,” he mentioned.

That is the rub with PCR exams. Test too early, and an individual’s probabilities of being contaminated after the take a look at enhance. Test too late, and the outcomes might not be prepared by departure time.

Starting Oct. 15, American Airlines’ passengers touring from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to Hawaii and Costa Rica can take Covid-19 exams at one in all three locations: the airport, native pressing care services or at dwelling through a digital assembly with a medical skilled.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rapid antigen exams can clear up the timing downside, however “they can result in 20% to 40% false negatives,” mentioned Gulick. That makes these exams higher suited to substantiate infections, reasonably than to provide an “all clear” indication of no an infection.

Rapid PCR exams exist, however their manufacturing hasn’t but matched demand, mentioned Dr. Shira Doron, infectious illness doctor and hospital epidemiologist at Tufts Medical Center.

“At this time, there are a few companies making rapid PCR tests,” she mentioned. “These are sensitive and have few false positives.”

The incubation concern

Finding the ‘center floor’



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