British Airways is conducting a trial of a rapid Covid spit test which gives results within just 25 seconds.
The airline says it will assess how the rapid test can play a role in opening up travel.
Initially, its flight and cabin crew will be invited to take the Pelican Covid-19 test to compare its results against existing tests that they are already using.
Recently approved for use in UK and Europe, the saliva antigen test is currently going through US FDA approval.
We hope the test can soon be used as a standard test for travellers and crew around the world – inventor
BA is the first airline in the world to trial the new technology.
Subject to successful evaluation, it hopes to be able to offer the test on applicable routes where tests have to meet the stated specificity and sensitivity standards.
It says the non-invasive saliva test delivers 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with coronavirus.
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 Bluetooth-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 optimized to detect variants that have originated across the globe, says BA.
Chairman and CEO Sean Doyle 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 [the manufacturer] to begin initial trials with our flight and cabin crew, before exploring what role it could play as a customer testing option.”
Canary’s CEO and inventor of the technology Raj Reddy said: “Combining the power of nano sensor 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 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.”
Currently, many destinations insist on arrivals present a negative PCR, not antigen, test. Even where antigen tests are accepted, some countries state these must be swab tests, not saliva.