British Airways is conducting a trial of a cloud-based digital Covid-19 antigen test that can display results within 25 seconds. The airline, which says it is the first in the world to trial this ultra-rapid test, will initially be inviting flight and cabin crew members to take the test, with the results compared against the results of the tests they are already taking. If successful, the airline sees the technology as a significant tool in opening up travel and making passenger processing more efficient.
The test kit is Canary Global’s ‘Pelican Covid-19 Ultra-Rapid Mobile Test’, an intelligent saliva test designed to detect symptomatic and asymptomatic people with SARS-CoV-2, including variants. The test is non-invasive, with users simply required to put a sample of their saliva into a disposable sensor unit, shake it, and the insert it into a re-usable digital reader, which is connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device such as a smartphone. The results appear via a mobile app, within a claimed 25 seconds.
The test, which uses nano-technology, probes for both the S and N SARS-Cov-2 protein and has been optimised to detect the various variants that have originated across the globe. Canary Global claims the test delivers 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2. The test already has European CE Mark and UK MHRA approval, and is currently also going through US FDA approval process. Subject to successful evaluation the airline hopes to be able to offer the tests on applicable routes where the technology meets the required specificity and sensitivity standards.
British Airways’ chairman and CEO, Sean Doyle, descibes the test as “a game changer” and will be exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.
Raj Reddy, Canary’s CEO and inventor of the technology said, “Combining the power of nanosensor and digital detection technology, the Pelican CV19 test is the first ultra-rapid test that can return a PCR-like accuracy of 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity. We developed the test with the travel industry in mind, where speed, accuracy and ease of use are paramount.”