New research backs rapid testing for safe, efficient restart of air travel: IATA

The OXERA-Edge Health report commissioned by IATA found that antigen tests are accurate, convenient and cost-effective. IATA said the best antigen tests provide broadly comparable results to PCR tests in accurately identifying infected travellers.

Geneva: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on Tuesday urged governments to accept best-in-class rapid antigen tests in fulfillment of Covid-19 testing requirements following the publication of new research by OXERA and Edge Health.

The OXERA-Edge Health report commissioned by IATA found that antigen tests are accurate, convenient and cost-effective. IATA said the best antigen tests provide broadly comparable results to PCR tests in accurately identifying infected travellers.

The BinaxNOW antigen test for example misses just one positive case in 1,000 travellers (based on an infection rate of one per cent among travellers). And it has similarly comparable performance to PCR tests in levels of false negatives.

At the same time, processing times for antigen tests are 100 times faster than for PCR testing. Besides, antigen tests are on average 60 per cent cheaper than PCR tests.

“Restarting international aviation will energize the economic recovery from Covid-19. Along with vaccines, testing will play a critical role in giving governments the confidence to re-open their borders to travelers,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“For governments, the top priority is accuracy. But travellers will also need tests to be convenient and affordable. The OXERA-Edge Health report tells us that the best-in-class antigen tests can tick all these boxes. It is important for governments to consider these findings as they make plans for a re-start,” he said. IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic.

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