Tag: Rapid

EU Seeks to Boost Rapid Covid Tests to Avoid Travel Chaos

(Bloomberg) — European Union regulators offered member governments guidelines on speedy testing for the coronavirus in the latest effort to prevent national health measures from hindering the free movement of people across the bloc.



a person lying on a blue blanket: Covid Testing As Madrid Steps Up Pressure Over Pandemic Steps


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Covid Testing As Madrid Steps Up Pressure Over Pandemic Steps

The European Commission recommendation covers the use of rapid antigen tests for detecting Covid-19 in “specific settings.” The commission also urged EU governments to recognize each other’s test results and approved 35.5 million euros ($42.2 million) for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to expand testing in the bloc.

“Testing tells us what the extent of the spread is, where it is and how it develops,” EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement on Wednesday in Brussels. “It is a decisive tool to slow down the spread of Covid-19.”

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed fundamental shortcomings in the way the EU can tackle international health emergencies, prompting pleas by airlines and airports for more coordinated action. National governments in the bloc have the prime responsibility for health policies that, in a crisis, can undermine the prized European single market.

Pfizer Vaccine Milestone; Poland Has Record Deaths: Virus Update

National border closures and curbs on the export of medical gear within the EU during the spring galvanized the commission, the 27-nation EU’s regulatory arm, into actions meant to create a more coherent response.

The results included special highway lanes to ensure trucks could cross national borders; curbs on the sale outside the EU of personal protective equipment; the joint procurement of any successful Covid-19 vaccines; and a common approach to imposing restrictions on visitors from abroad.

In October, the commission stepped up such efforts by urging improved exchanges of real-time data, a focus on rapid testing and greater use of mobile-tracing applications. Last week, it proposed legislation to beef up two EU health agencies.

Among the commission’s recommendations on Wednesday regarding rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 are that they should be:

conducted by trained healthcare personnel or trained operators where appropriateused within five days after the onset of symptoms or within seven days after exposure to a confirmed Covid-19 caseconsidered for individuals with Covid-19 compatible symptoms in areas where the proportion of test positivity is high or very high when the availability of “gold standard” RT-PCR tests is temporarily limitedrecommended to test individuals, regardless of symptoms, in settings where the proportion of test positivity is expected to be ≥10%considered at admission to healthcare facilities and for a targeted population-wide testing approach

(Updates with details of specific recommendations in last two paragraphs)

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Rapid Testing Will Bring Back Travel Faster Than A Vaccine

The exciting news from Pfizer
PFE
about their successful Covid vaccine is encouraging for the return of gathering and travel. But this, or any other vaccine, is far from a silver bullet as travel demand recovery needs more than this to fully rebound. The issues with a vaccine extend beyond just access, but also acceptance. Is it clear that, properly vaccinated, one cannot still spread the virus, for example? How many people will take the vaccine? Taking this down to a single travel decision or a government policy on quarantines makes it difficult to think that an effective vaccine helps push this far enough.

What travel really needs is a five minute or less test that is low cost, easy to administer and gives accurate results. There are companies working on this now.

Let’s start with an airplane. A quick test would allow everyone to test at the airport or earlier, and know that everyone boarding the plane has tested negatively. Obviously, a well distributed vaccine will help this as it will increase the likelihood of more people testing negative. You may miss having that seat next to you empty for comfort purposes, but wouldn’t have to think that you were compromising safety as a result.

Now consider a theme park. These are mostly outdoor, and make it easier with masks and distancing to participate even today. But if you knew that everyone in the park had tested negatively, wouldn’t that make the day less stressful and easier to navigate? Again, vaccines help but don’t give this level of confidence. Consider how you might answer this simple question:

When considering going out to eat at a restaurant, would you prefer:

A. To know that you are vaccinated and therefore not likely to get the virus during this visit, or

B. Know that everyone eating in that restaurant while you are there has just tested negative for the virus

I would expect a huge percentage of people would answer B, and while this makes sense individually it also is why accurate and fast testing would likely push regulators and governments to relax quarantines and limits. It would be hard for NY, for example, to easily reduce their quarantine and testing protocols, and now 10pm curfews, just from knowing that a vaccine is available but without any mandate for everyone to actually take it. Also, even at a terrific 90% effectiveness, that’s not 100% so policymakers would have to consider that too. Compare that to saying “if everyone is tested before entering the bar, stay open as long as you want as long as you don’t let in anyone who tests positively” is easier to justify and police.

Vaccines are great and the sooner the better for everyone, with good encouragement

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University students in Wales offered rapid Covid testing before Christmas travel

Coronavirus
Coronavirus

Students at Welsh universities will be asked to undergo rapid coronavirus testing before returning home for Christmas, the Welsh Government has said.

Universities will also end the majority of “in person” lessons in the week ending December 8, allowing time for students who test positive to isolate for 14 days before reuniting with their families.

Students will also be asked to minimise their social contact with others in the run up to the end of term and told to sign up for the new Lateral Flow Test pilot from their university if they plan on travelling home.

PA infographic showing daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK
(PA Graphics)

The self-administered test delivers results in 30 minutes and uses a nose and throat swab.

The test should be taken within 24 hours of a student’s intended travel date, with testing facilities set to become available at participating universities within the next few weeks.

Travel should be planned for no later than December 9, the Welsh Government said, allowing time to rearrange plans in case students need to self-isolate.

Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams said each of the UK’s four governments had worked together on university Christmas travel but would announce their own plans separately.

Ms Williams said: “We have been working with the other nations to ensure that all students, no matter where they live or study, are treated fairly and can travel home as safely as possible.

“We are also working with our universities to roll out the asymptomatic mass testing pilot before the end of term.

“I would encourage students to sign up for the testing pilot to make returning home at the end of term easier.

“I have been determined that students here in Wales are able to spend the holidays where they most want to, in a safe way, and these arrangements will allow that to happen.”

The Welsh Government will also communicate directly with Welsh students at universities elsewhere in the UK.

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U.K. Quarantine-Free Travel Is Almost A Reality With Rapid Covid-19 Tests

U.K. Transport Secretary Grant Schapps has announced plans to introduce quick Covid-19 tests to eliminate the need to quarantine.

In a speech in London to the Airport Operators Association, Schapps told an audience of aviation industry professionals that the current testing taking place in Liverpool, offered “hope for optimism”, as reported by Sky News.

Schapps was referring to a trial where swabs of the nose or throat are placed on a test device and the results are displayed within 15 to 30 minutes.

The U.K. is currently on lockdown until 2 December, and at present, under strict travel restrictions–foreign holidays are banned, with penalties ranging from £200 ($264) to £6,400 ($8,463).

Britons are currently allowed to travel through a “travel corridor” system, where countries are put on safe lists, meaning that travelers do not need to quarantine upon their return. However, as Covid-19 rates have been spiking across the EU and the U.K., this list of safe countries is getting smaller and smaller. Germany and Sweden were the latest countries to be removed from the safe list on 7 November.

With what Schapps called “perhaps the darkest hour for aviation”, there have been calls by many in the industry, including the Telegraph newspaper, to introduce a system of rapid Covid-19 testing instead, where negative tests allow quarantine-free entry to a country.

There are currently several tests for detecting the virus, useful in different situations, which can be effective when used in conjunction with masks and contact tracing.

Airport testing is different to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, which has been the more standard approach around the world. In this case, a nasal swab or saliva sample detects the presence of the Sars-CoV-2 virus and is processed in a lab–results typically take 24 hours to a few days to come back, making rapid testing difficult.

Airport testing is a rapid antigen test, determining whether molecular markers on the outside of the coronavirus are present in a sample. The latter is much less sophisticated but can deliver results in minutes–and it is hoped, could help the airline industry recover.

The scheme could ideally be rolled out for arrivals by train and car too, at Eurostar or ferry terminals.

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New 7-Day ‘Test And Release’ Approach And Heathrow Rapid Covid-19 Testing

London’s Heathrow airport launched a new service Tuesday to rapidly test for Covid-19 before passengers depart on their flights. Simultaneously, the U.K. government has announced plans to slash quarantine on international arrivals from 14 days to one week.

It is hoped that both schemes will encourage passengers back in the air.

The UK’s first rapid pre-flight Covid-19 testing facility will cost £80 ($104) with results taking around an hour to complete–Oxford LAMP tests are being used. LAMP tests, unlike others, do not need to go to a laboratory to be processed.

Collinson and logistics firm Swissport described the pre-departure testing regime as the “crucial next step toward keeping the travel industry moving while limiting the spread of the virus”, as reported in The Telegraph.

The testing will be located at terminals 2 and 5 for passengers traveling to destinations that require pre-departure testing, notably Hong Kong and Italy, as reported by CNN. The trial will take place for 4 weeks, used by airlines British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific, and will record passenger and airline take up.

Skyscanner polled 3,525 U.K. travelers as to their thoughts on Heathrow’s new rapid testing facility and discovered that 69% of them would be prepared to pay for a test in order to be able to travel and avoid quarantine upon arrival.

An additional study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that 86% of Britons say they are willing to be tested to facilitate travel, quoted in The Telegraph.

The U.K. transport secretary, speaking at an aviation conference Airlines 2050 on Monday 19 October, announced that a new testing system would be introduced by December 1 to allow quarantine to be slashed from 14 to 7 days for travelers arriving back in the country.

It was coined a “domestic ‘test and release’ approach” where travelers returning from overseas would quarantine for 7 days and then be allowed to take a Covid-19 test, available through the private sector. If the result was negative, international travelers would be allowed to end their period of self-isolation. 78% of U.K. travelers polled by Skyscanner said that this would make them more likely to travel abroad to certain countries.

Hugh Aitken, VP of Skyscanner stated that the “a combination of reduced quarantine length and more airport testing measures could mean we see more travellers feeling confident to travel to their favourite places again without being heavily impacted on their return.”

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