24 MAY 2021
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Pre-travel testing does catch those who have Covid-19 before they fly and travellers are happy to pay for tests, if they’re affordable, according to an Oxford University analysis of a joint trial by American Airlines, British Airways under the auspices of the oneworld alliance.
The results show that a comprehensive Covid-19 testing programme can help re-open international travel, safely.
The study by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII), 'Trust, Testing and Travel, Technology Use, Traveller Knowledge and Compliance with Covid-19 Health Rules’, analysed aggregated survey data from almost 600 travellers who took part in the voluntary testing trial on select flights from the US to Heathrow (LHR), between November 2020 and March 2021. The trial offered three complimentary Covid-19 tests, taken throughout the transatlantic journey.
Customers participating in the trial, conducted in two phases, took an initial PCR test at 72hr prior to departure; a second test (LAMP) upon arrival at LHR; and a third test (PCR) taken three to five days after arrival in the UK.
In the trial’s first phase, just 1% of travellers who took a test within 72hr of their departure tested positive and, as a result of the test, they did not travel. None of the travellers who took a test upon arrival at LHR tested positive. Of the travellers who took the third test after arriving in the UK, just 0.4%, of travellers tested positive.
The analysis by researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute suggests that the testing trial results were “broadly consistent” with earlier testing trial programmes in the aviation industry.
Findings of the Oxford study will be shared with governments and stakeholders, in an important addition to the growing body of knowledge that shows how comprehensive Covid-19 testing can provide governments with the confidence they need to lift entry restrictions and allow travel to safely resume.
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