COVID-19: ‘Ultra rapid’ 25-second coronavirus test hailed as a ‘game-changer’ in British Airways trial

An “ultra rapid” coronavirus test which can produce results within 25 seconds has been hailed as a “game-changer”.

British Airways (BA) is conducting trials of the “highly intelligent” saliva test which can detect variants of the virus.

Flight and cabin crew members will be invited to take the Pelican COVID-19 antigen test in a trial with medical company Canary Global.

The airline will then compare the results against those achieved by existing tests.

British Airways has described the test as a “game-changer” amid hopes it could play a role in opening up travel.

It comes as the government released a traffic light system for international travel which will be permitted again from Monday.

Just 12 destinations are on the green list – countries British travellers can visit without having to self-isolate upon their return – including Portugal and Gibraltar.

But four of the most popular destinations for UK tourists – Spain, France, Italy, and the US – were placed on the amber list – meaning a 10-day home quarantine when travellers fly back.

BA chief executive, Sean Doyle, said the airline is “committed to exploring easy and affordable testing solutions to help our customers travel again”.

“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,” he added.

The airline said the “non-invasive” test correctly identifies 98% of people who have COVID-19, and 100% of those who do not.

Users place a sample of their saliva into a disposable sensor unit, shake it and insert into a reusable digital reader, connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device such as a smartphone.

The results appear on a mobile app within 25 seconds.

It has been approved for use in Europe and Britain and is being assessed in the US, BA said.

CEO of Canary and inventor of the technology, Raj Reddy, said: “We developed the test with the travel industry in mind where speed, accuracy and ease of use are paramount.

“We hope the Pelican test can soon be used as a standard test for travellers and crew around the world.”

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