Airlines Seek Quick Coronavirus Tests for Passengers
European airlines are aiming to give passengers quick, pre-flight coronavirus tests in an effort to get more travelers to start flying again.
The tests could produce results in as little as 15 minutes. The airlines hope the effort will help convince passengers that flying is safe during the continuing health crisis.
Germany's Lufthansa is in talks with Swiss drug company Roche over deploying the so-called antigen tests, the Reuters news agency reported. Several airlines are planning to make the tests available to passengers as early as next month, Reuters said.
Officials for Italy's Alitalia told Reuters that the airline had added two flights from Milan to Rome that only accept passengers with negative coronavirus tests. Those flights are in addition to two it is already offering from Rome to Milan.
Alitalia says health officials give the tests at the airport. The tests are included in ticket prices. The airline also said it plans to offer more antigen-tested flights within Italy and internationally if they prove to be popular and safe.
Unlike the more commonly used laboratory-based molecular tests for COVID-19, antigen tests do not require machines to process. Much like pregnancy tests, they can produce results in about 15 minutes.
However, the tests require collection of a nasal sample that can be unpleasant. They also have higher error rates than the molecular, or PCR, tests. Antigen tests generally produce more "false negatives," which could lead to some sick people getting on planes.
An increasing number of antigen tests are becoming available from companies including Abbott Laboratories, Becton, Dickinson and Company, Quidel and Roche.
Quick antigen tests that can be given by non-medical workers are expected to be available in the coming weeks, said Alexandre de Juniac. He is head of the International Air Transport Association. He added that the tests could cost as little as $7 each.
Airlines have been pressing governments to come up with new safety measures to ease widespread travel restrictions that were put in place after Europe started seeing a rise in cases.
Even though the tests are not perfect, airline companies hope they can help people feel safer about flying.
"It is to give ... confidence, at a specific point in time, that the result is positive or negative," said Christian Paulus, a Roche research and development manager. He added that because of possible errors with antigen tests, results would need to be confirmed in some cases using the PCR method.
A spokesman for Alitalia said none of its passengers who took the pre-flight antigen tests were positive. The airline said it plans to examine findings from its testing experiment in the middle of October before deciding whether to expand the program.
Lufthansa Chief Executive Carsten Spohr recently told employees that the airline was in talks with Roche over deploying the tests. A Lufthansa spokeswoman told Reuters the airline believes the tests would be a better solution "than putting somebody into quarantine."
Germany is considering wider antigen test use starting in October, including in nursing homes where older patients have been hardest hit by COVID-19.
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5.Airlines have been pressing governments to come up with new safety measures to ease widespread travel restrictions that were put in place after Europe started seeing a rise in cases.
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6.Airlines have been pressing governments to come up with new safety measures to ease widespread travel restrictions that were put in place after Europe started seeing a rise in cases.
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这些测试仅需15分钟就能得出结果 。航空公司希望该措施能够帮助说服乘客，飞机出行在这次持续的健康危机中是安全的 。
据路透社报道，德国的汉莎航空公司正在跟瑞士罗氏制药公司就部署所谓的抗原检测进行谈判 。路透社表示，几家航空公司计划最早在下个月向乘客提供抗原检测 。
意大利航空公司官员对路透社表示，该航空公司已经增加了两班从米兰到罗马的航班，只允许新冠病毒检测为阴性的乘客登机 。这些航班是在现有的罗马到米兰两班航班的基础上增加的 。
意大利航空公司表示，卫生官员在机场进行抗原检测 。检测费用已经包含在票价中 。该航空公司还表示，如果事实证明这种方式被乘客接受并且安全，该公司计划在意大利国内和国际航班中开展更多抗原检测 。
与更常用的基于实验室的新冠肺炎分子检测不同，抗原检测不需要机器处理 。就像验孕一样，可以在15分钟左右出结果 。
但是，这种检测需要收集鼻拭子，这一过程会让人不舒服 。它的错误率也比分子检测或核酸检测要高 。抗原检测通常会产生更多的“假阴性”，这可能会导致某些感染者登上飞机 。
亚历山大·德朱尼亚克（Alexandre de Juniac）表示，预计在未来几周内有望由非医务人员进行快速抗原检测 。他是国际航空运输协会的负责人 。他还表示，每次检测的花费可能仅为7美元 。
罗氏制药的研发经历克里斯蒂安·保卢斯表示：“它是在特定时间点给大家信心，结果是阳性或是阴性 。” 他还表示，由于抗原检测可能存在错误，某些情况下需要使用核酸检测对结果进行确认 。
意大利航空公司发言人表示，该公司所有接受飞行前抗原检测的乘客均未出现阳性 。该公司表示，计划在10月中旬对这次检测实验的结果进行核查，然后再决定是否扩大该项目 。
汉莎航空公司首席执行官卡斯滕·斯波尔（Carsten Spohr）最近对员工表示，该公司正在与罗氏制药就部署抗原检测进行谈判 。德国汉莎航空公司的一位发言人对路透社表示，该公司认为，检测是比“隔离”更好的解决方案 。