British Airways is to run a trial of an ultra-rapid Covid-19 antigen test that display results within 25 seconds.
The carrier said it is the first airline in the world to conduct a trial with medical tech company Canary Global, to assess how its Pelican Covid-19 Ultra Rapid Covid-19 test can play a role in opening up travel.
BA flight and cabin crew will be invited to take the Pelican Covid-19 test. The results will be compared with existing tests that they are already taking.
Recently approved for use in Europe and UK, the test is currently going through the approval process in the US.
The airline hopes to be able to offer the test technology on applicable routes where tests have to meet the stated specificity and sensitivity standards.
Sean Doyle, BA chairman and chief executive, said: “As we start to see the opening up of travel we remain committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again.
“We think this new ultra-rapid test is a game changer so we are delighted to work with the team at Canary to begin initial trials with our flight and cabin crew, before exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.”
The test is a non-invasive saliva test that delivers 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2.
Users put a sample of their saliva into a disposable sensor unit, shake and insert it into a re-usable digital reader. The test is optimised to detect variants that have originated across the globe.
Raj Reddy, Canary’s chief executive and inventor of the technology, said: “Combining the power of Nano sensor 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.
“We hope the Pelican test can soon be used as a standard test for travellers and crew around the world.”
Canary Global is in discussions with other travel, hospitality and events organisers around the world to help them safely open up with the Pelican ultra-rapid Covid-19 test.