YVR study suggests rapid testing contributes to safer travel

Vancouver International Airport and WestJet are touting the results of a four-month study that suggests your chances of getting COVID-19 on a domestic flight are low as long as proper testing is in place.

Between November and February, nearly 600 departing passengers at YVR took a COVID-19 rapid antigen test and all came back negative. Researchers said the results led them to conclude that transmissible infection in airline passengers departing from YVR is likely to be less than one per cent.

How WestJet is implementing their COVID testing program – Dec 10, 2020

Under the pilot project guidelines, WestJet travellers were given the chance to opt-in and take a rapid test before flying.

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Read more: Rapid COVID-19 testing trialed at Vancouver International Airport

If they tested positive, they were not permitted to fly that day, pending a lab-confirmed PCR test of their results, and would be rebooked on a future flight at no cost.

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YVR launches a rapid COVID-19 testing pilot – Nov 28, 2020

Researchers said the rapid tests took between 15 to 20 minutes to complete and led to minimal disruptions.

“Rapid antigen testing is a critically important tool – and perhaps an underutilized tool – in our ability to prevent and control COVID-19,” co-principal investigator Dr. Marc Romney said in a statement.

Read more: No positive tests in first phase of YVR’s rapid COVID-19 test pilot project

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“The findings from our study provide further evidence that this technology can be successfully deployed in an airport setting, and that rapid antigen testing performs surprisingly well – even in a low- prevalence population such as air travellers.”

Vancouver Airport Authority president and CEO Tamara Vrooman said they hope the results will help the travel industry reopen safely and prove useful for other industries.

— With files from Simon Little

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