Already in May, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) pointed out that the quarantine policy would delay the relaunching of air transport after it stopped in the spring of 2020. However, no progress has been made so far and quarantine rules still have a great impact on travel plans and the operations of the aviation sector. That is why the IATA and others have been looking for alternatives to quarantine regulations for a long time, usually through tests.
Airline carriers and aviation industry associations now invite for an adequate Covid-19 system to be established, as the current quarantine regimes support the current lack of trust in flying. Many EU states, on the other hand, are already implementing testing centers at airports, which enables an exception from the current quarantine rules.
Quick antigen tests: How fast and reliable are they really?
In order to get PCR test results, in the best case scenario, one has to wait for a few hours, but usually a day or even longer. While you're waiting there are predominantly “short quarantine” measures – or you have to take the test previously, but keeping in mind the fact that the test is not older than the time period required in the target country. This causes stress in travel planning, while laboratories in which PCR tests are analyzed are filled to capacity. Furthermore, PCR tests are relatively expensive, which is also a problem.
But now there's a new source of hope: the so-called antigen tests. These tests, like PCR tests, require a nasal swab, but the procedure is much quicker. For example the quick test provided by Roche gives a result within 15 minutes. No analytical device is needed; lab testing is not needed either. The results of the study also show that antigen tests are nearly as accurate as the currently used PCR tests.
The quick test is designed to immediately detect infected persons. On the other hand, it enables a more efficient usage of healthcare resources (especially in the upcoming flu season, such a test can help quickly exclude the possibility of a SARS-CoV-2 infection and for a suitable treatment to start immediately), and also, a quick test would make things easier for the tourism industry.
It's important to note that this test does not require expensive laboratory infrastructure, making it cheaper than the PCR test. The question of costs is often the reason why the implementation still often fails: despite the fact that other approaches have been adopted in the meantime (in Germany, for example, the state carried out such tests at airports for a while), the consumers usually handle the costs – and those have been usually pretty high for the PCR tests.
Airline carriers have been appealing to governments for a long time now to implement quick tests, remove the quarantine and enable test results to be valid in all target airports. Quick tests would also definitely bring back the trust in air travel, enabling a true revival of this industry. Lufthansa is considering the use of quick tests from October.
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