Citing a new study commissioned by the organization itself, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is calling on governments around the world to introduce the best fast COVID-19 antigen tests to bring air traffic back to 2019 levels.
A one-year pandemic of the coronavirus now costs airlines half as much as in 2019, although that figure is slowly rising after it was lowered to 90% in April 2020.
The study was conducted by OXERA and Edge Health, according to IATA.
The report identifies a number of factors that led to the conclusion that rapid antigen tests are the most effective, including accuracy, convenience and cost-effectiveness. Most importantly, the tests give airlines, travellers and governments confidence that flights are safe.
The recovery of international aviation will boost the economy after COWID-19. Along with vaccines, testing will play a crucial role in giving governments the confidence to reopen their borders to travelers, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. For governments, accuracy is a top priority. But travelers also need tests that are comfortable and accessible. The OXERA-Edge Health report indicates that the best antigenic tests can meet all these requirements. It is important that governments take these results into account when developing plans for new beginnings.
Another good reason to test early is that the testing requirements are currently fragmented and confusing to travelers. In addition, many governments do not allow rapid testing. When the only options for travelers are PCR tests, they involve significant cost and inconvenience.
And in some parts of the world, PCR testing capabilities are limited, with clinical applications being the appropriate priority.
Alexander de Juniac, Director General and CEO of IATA. (Photo courtesy of IATA)
Travelers need options. The inclusion of antigen testing as an acceptable test would certainly aid recovery, de Juniac said. And the EU specification for acceptable antigen tests provides a good basis for wider international harmonisation of acceptable standards. Governments must now implement these recommendations. The aim is to have a clear set of screening options that are medically effective, affordable and practically accessible to all potential travellers.
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