British Airways trials ‘world first’ 25-second Covid-19 test

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Pelican Covid-19 Ultra Rapid Covid-19 test
  • British Airways is the first airline in the world to conduct a trial of an ultra-rapid Covid-19 antigen test that display results within 25 seconds
  • Highly intelligent saliva test can detect symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2, including variants
  • Trial will initially be conducted by inviting flight and cabin crew members to take the test, with the airline comparing the results against their standard test results
  • The cloud-based digital test, using nano-technology, has CE Mark and UK MHRA approval and is currently also going through U.S. FDA approval

British Airways 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, which displays a result within 25 seconds, can play a role in opening up travel.

The airline will be inviting flight and cabin crew to take the Pelican Covid-19 test and will compare the performance of the result against existing tests that they are already taking.  Recently approved for use in Europe and UK, the test is currently going through U.S. FDA approval and the airline is the first in the world to trial the new technology. Subject to successful evaluation 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.

The test is a non-invasive saliva ultra-rapid digital antigen test that delivers 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2. Users simply take a sample of their saliva into a disposable sensor unit, shake and insert it into a re-usable digital reader which is connected to a blue-tooth enabled device like a smartphone, and then wait for the results that appear through a mobile app. The test which probes for both the S and N SARS-Cov-2 protein is optimised to detect variants that have originated across the globe.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, 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, whether it’s for business, to reunite with family and friends or take a much-needed break abroad. 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.”

Raj Reddy, Canary’s CEO and inventor of the technology said: “Combining the power of nanosensor 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 are very excited to partner with BA as a pioneer and industry leader to trial this test, and 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. The test could also help to safely open up other business and schools. Canary is currently ramping up its production to meet the global demand.

British Airways has consistently championed testing as a way to re-open travel safely and has ensured its customers have access to a wide range of discounted Covid-19 pre-departure, return to the UK and arrivals testing options. The airline has a dedicated webpage where customers can find the right test to meet the entry requirements for their destination ba.com/Covid19-tests.

To offer customers further reassurance before travel the airline is trialling the travel health app, VeriFLY. The digital health travel app, which can be downloaded to a mobile device, is designed to check customers meet the entry requirements of their destination by providing digital health document verification and confirming eligibility before they depart for the airport. The airline is working to integrate VeriFLY into its systems with customers travelling to New York, Miami or San Francisco, able to check in online if they are using the travel app.

British Airways’ customers also travelling to Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, can now also upload their negative Covid-19 test result and other documentation directly into ba.com for verification before travel.

May 13, 2021

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