UK’s Heathrow Airport trials rapid Covid-19 testing

31 August 2020 (Last Updated August 31st, 2020 12:00)

Heathrow Airport in the UK has trialled three rapid point of care Covid-19 tests which may prevent the implementation of blanket quarantine rules and facilitate the recovery of the aviation sector.

UK’s Heathrow Airport trials rapid Covid-19 testing
One of the tests claims to provide the results in as little as 30 seconds. Credit: Heathrow Airport Limited.

Heathrow Airport in the UK has trialled three rapid point of care Covid-19 tests which may prevent the implementation of blanket quarantine rules and facilitate the recovery of the aviation sector.

The trials were conducted on airport staff and currently, the findings are being evaluated.

One of the tests, where Heathrow worked with I-Abra to trial their Virolens testing device, claims to provide the results in as little as 30 seconds. A machine learning holographic microscope, the device is designed to identify if a person is carrying the disease.

In the other two tests, the airport worked with Geneme and Mologic. These two tests are expected to provide results in 30 and ten minutes, respectively.

The participants were given the option to choose any of the three solutions. Also, they underwent a government-approved privately provided PCR test to enable the comparision of the two results.

The results of the trials are only advisory. The initiative will also help in determining if such tests can be conducted on passengers outside of a laboratory setting.

Following the evaluation, Heathrow will share the data with the government.

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Testing is the lifeline that the UK’s aviation sector needs to get back on its feet. We’ve put some of the most cutting-edge rapid testing technologies into action at Heathrow to see which offers the best solution.

“If we can find a test that is accurate, gets a result within a matter of minutes, is cost-effective and gets the Government green light, we could have the potential to introduce wide-scale testing at the airport.

“Every passenger travelling through Heathrow would have the confidence to know the airport is Covid-free, boosting demand and getting Global Britain back to safely trading and travelling with the world again. Without this, our first class aviation sector risks becoming second class, giving Britain’s competitive advantage to others.”

Last month, Heathrow rolled out several measures to minimise Covid-19 contagion risks after air travelling resumed in the UK.