The long-term goal of the trial is to understand whether these tests could be performed quickly and efficiently on large numbers of people outside of a laboratory and to ensure that they are accurate enough to be delivered in a airport environment.
The tests evaluate three different test methods for accuracy, user experience, and convenience outside of a lab environment.
They stand alongside Heathrow’s ability to test arriving passengers with a Swissport and Collinson site ready for action, again after the government’s final rulings have been made.
In test trials carried out by colleagues, Heathrow has worked with:
- Geneme offered a rapid RT-LAMP test (below) that uses a sample taken from a nasal or throat swab to provide results within 30 minutes. It uses a secure app from Yoti that makes it easy to capture, process, and share COVID-19 test results, without the need for paperwork. Secure anti-spoofing results can be sent to an individual’s phone using the free Yoti app or to a specified email.
- Mologic proposed a lateral flow solution (below) that uses a saliva sample on a testing device, which provides a visual reading result in ten minutes.
- I open is working with the airport to test the Virolens test device (below) to see if its machine learning holographic microscope, supported by Dell / Intel and in partnership with TT Electronics plc for design and manufacture, can quickly ( in less than 30 seconds) and accurately identify whether a person is a carrier of the disease through a self-administered test.
Colleagues were given the opportunity to choose from the solutions they tried. However, as the results of these initial trials are only advisory until the methodologies work in a non-clinical setting, the participating colleagues also took a government-approved, privately-provided PCR test administered by Collinson. Assistance Services Ltd. to compare their results to government-accredited tests.
Earlier this month, the government unveiled plans to test new rapid coronavirus tests in hospitals, nursing homes and NHS labs to understand how these alternative methods could help increase testing capacity in sight of winter.
Heathrow’s own trials will feed into the government’s findings after being independently assessed by a subset of academics in CONDOR. It is hoped that these findings will then be used to support the recovery in all sectors.
CONDOR is working to accelerate the real-world use of COVID-19 diagnostics and their results will help identify the most accurate test methods. The results of the study are sent to the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs to support the decision-making process.
Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said: “Testing is the lifeline the UK aviation industry needs to get back on its feet. We have implemented some of the most advanced rapid test technologies at Heathrow to see which offers the best solution. If we can find an accurate test, which gets a result in minutes, is cost effective and gets the green light from the government, we might have the potential to introduce large-scale testing at the airport.
“Every passenger traveling through Heathrow would have the confidence of knowing that the airport is COVID-free, increasing demand and allowing Global Britain to resume trading and traveling safely with the world. Without it, our first-class aviation sector risks becoming second-class, giving Britain the competitive edge to others.
These tests complement the pilot project of PCR test on arrival of Swissport and Collinson, whose installation was unveiled last week. The pilot, which is subject to government approval, could offer passengers from countries with higher infection rates a reduced quarantine period if they test negative for COVID-19 twice, during of the proposed process in two tests.
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