A British healthcare company at the forefront of Covid-19 testing has warned that if the UK Government presses ahead with the use of lateral flow testing for international airline travel, it could trigger the third wave of infections. The consequences of a third wave could also potentially halt international air travel again, plunging the UK back into a third lockdown.
Salutaris People operates across the UK, providing private Covid-19 testing for airline passengers, individuals and businesses believe that the only way to safely resume international air travel and get confidence back into the aviation sector is to insist that all passengers have a “gold-standard” PCR test. It also advocates the use of health passports to authenticate Covid test status and vaccination history, along with the mandatory wearing of face masks.
The company’s experts, who have long been advocates of a traffic light system for air travel, believe this is also a crucially important factor in the resumption of safe air travel. The traffic light system would help to protect the safety of both inbound and outbound airline passengers. Salutaris People welcomed the Government’s plans for this to be part of the roadmap for airline travel to resume on 17th May.
Ben Paglia, MD of Akea Life, the clinical testing partner to Salutaris People, said: “The idea of using a lateral flow test as a ‘cheaper alternative to PCR testing and to make this more affordable to airline passengers is frankly astonishing.
“After we have made such incredible progress with the vaccination program rollout – and the incredible hardships and sacrifices many people have had to make in lockdown – why would the Government drop its guard now and risk a potential third outbreak and a rise in infections? All it takes is for one person to have a false test result using a lateral flow kit and an entire plane of several hundred people could be at risk.
“The Government’s suggestion to allow airline passengers to also potentially administer their own lateral flow tests would also set a very dangerous precedent and hinder the accuracy of results. The number of false negatives can increase significantly simply due to the lack of understanding people will have in testing themselves. This in itself can also lead to the ‘false reassurance’ that a person is ‘negative’ when in fact they may be positive or asymptomatic but carrying the virus. We know that when the tests are administered by trained healthcare professionals, the results accuracy will increase significantly. This is why the tests are indicated for healthcare professional use only.”
Salutaris People is on the UK Government’s approved list of Covid-19 test providers and the lead partner in the first rapid PCR test facility at a UK airport. The express testing suite, which has its own on-site laboratory at the airport, provides clients with a rapid PCR test and certificate in under 3 hours, offering Fit to Fly and Test to Release alongside 2- and 8-day testing.
Ross Tomkins, MD of Salutaris People, commented: “An outbreak of Covid-19 infections would not only halt all international air travel again but damage the economy even further and risk-taking the country back into a potential third lockdown. Lateral flow tests have a role to play in the testing cycle, but not at the expense of allowing someone to board a plane who may have to be infectious or asymptomatic. Airline travel was a major accelerant in the first stages of the Covid-19 virus being spread.”
Ben Paglia, MD of Akea Life, the clinical testing partners to Salutaris People, added:
“The only sensible way of tackling the issue of testing and authentication is by using a ‘gold- standard’ PCR test to determine a person’s Covid-19 status. A negative test result then being uploaded into a health passport and presented at the airport at check-in along with your existing travel passport would be a simple process to manage.”
Salutaris People, in conjunction with its healthcare and clinical partners Akea Life, Therapy Direct, and Normedica, is also offering a unique Covid-19 Concierge Service to clients by bringing private Covid PCR testing to their location. A trained healthcare professional will come to a private residence, hotel or location and administer PCR tests. The tests are then couriered back to the mobile laboratory facilities, providing express PCR results within 1-3 hours. The company also plans to offer this service across the UK in other key locations and airports.
Salutaris People was formed in 2020 by healthcare entrepreneurs and disruptors to develop a trusted healthcare brand and become a provider of Covid-related medical services including PCR Covid-19 testing for businesses, private individuals, and airline passengers
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