Heathrow Airport is to share the findings of three Covid testing trials with the government.
The airport has conducted three different ‘rapid point-of-care’ Covid trials with its staff to understand if and how these tests could be used outside of a laboratory, such as in an airport setting.
The results of the latest trials will be given to the government as ministers look into whether testing could provide a safe alternative to blanket quarantine restrictions in certain circumstances.
The long-term aim of the trials is to understand whether these tests could be quickly and efficiently conducted on large numbers of people outside of a laboratory setting and to ensure they are accurate enough to be delivered in an airport environment.
The trials evaluate three different testing methods for accuracy, user experience and practicality outside of a laboratory environment.
Heathrow staff were given the choice of which trial to undertake, all developed by different companies. One trial was formulated by biotech company Geneme using a sample from a nasal or throat swab to get results in 30 minutes, with results send to an individual’s mobile phone; another was by Mologic, using a saliva sample on a test device with a result in ten minutes; and the third was by I-Abra, which involves a self-administered test with results in 30 seconds.
Staff also took part in a government-approved privately provided test administered by Collinson Assistance Services to compare results with government accredited tests.
The results are only advisory until the methods are proven to work in a non-clinical setting.
Heathrow’s trials will feed into the Government’s findings after being independently evaluated in the hope they can be used to help the travel industry recover.
Healthrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye said: “Testing is the lifeline that the UK’s aviation sector needs to get back on its feet.
“We’ve put some of the most cutting-edge rapid testing technologies into action at Heathrow to see which offers the best solution.
“If we can find a test that is accurate, gets a result within a matter of minutes, is cost-effective and gets the Government green light, we could have the potential to introduce wide-scale testing at the airport.
“Every passenger travelling through Heathrow would have the confidence to know the airport is Covid-free, boosting demand and getting global Britain back to safely trading and travelling with the world again. Without this, our first class aviation sector risks becoming second class, giving Britain’s competitive advantage to others.”
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