XpresSpa Group’s subsidiary XpresCheck is to conduct biosurveillance monitoring at three US airports to identify SARS-CoV-2 variants.

The company has secured permission to advance with the $2m eight-week pilot programme with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with Concentric by Ginkgo.

Under the programme, XpresCheck will conduct biosurveillance tracking at three US airports running XpresCheck Covid-19 testing centres.

These three airports are John F. Kennedy International Airport, Newark-Liberty International Airport, and San Francisco International Airport.

The programme will initially focus on arrivals from India.

Passengers will be asked to take a free PCR test, along with five to ten other samples, which will be taken to a lab network to identify the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

If the virus is found in the pooled sample, the pathogens in those samples will be sequenced genomically to detect the existence of any new variants, including the Delta variant.

XpresSpa Group CEO Doug Satzman said: “The programme is being designed to help track the influx of new SARS-CoV-2 variants and create a mechanism to be deployed against infectious diseases going forward.

“Following the launch of this CDC-backed biosurveillance programme, XpresCheck aims to further expand the relationship with the CDC and extend the programme into all US major international airports, with flights arriving from any high-risk countries in the near future.”

XpresCheck’s collaboration with Concentric by Ginkgo will include two testing modalities for travellers arriving in the US every week from India.

Under the first modality, the passengers arriving on direct flights from India will undergo pooled testing. The second phase will involve take-home PCR tests.

Both tests will allow the CDC to determine which variants are entering the country.