As case counts fluctuate, reliable testing will remain an important tool in helping the airline industry and travelers stay safe and on schedule
With travel restrictions, closed borders, staff out sick, and lower demand for flights all playing a part, COVID-19 strained the airline industry in unprecedented ways. Airports are bustling once again, but travelers are still often required to test for COVID-19 prior to boarding a plane and are watching travel guidelines closely, as requirements vary depending on destination and can change without notice
As COVID-19 case counts fluctuate, global communities and the airline industry are expected to keep these preventative and protective travel measures in place for some time. Looking ahead, heightened fears surrounding disease transmission and the ongoing threat of other infectious pathogens that present similarly to COVID-19, such influenza, will drive a continued need for efficient and reliable PCR testing — the “ticket” to keeping the airline industry and passengers off the ground.
Rapid PCR emerges as the only viable same-day, on-site option for many travelers
Due to PCR-based COVID-19 tests being more accurate and reliable than antigen tests , PCR results are universally accepted and, in many cases, required by destinations with testing protocols in place. Although PCR offers the most failsafe option for travelers looking for a pre-flight test, the typical 24 hour or longer turnaround time associated with sending samples out for lab-based processing can be difficult for some travelers to navigate around.
COVID-19 test results are only valid for a set amount of time, so travelers have to find a site that can complete the test within the necessary window and guarantee result return in time to board. Anyone who schedules a last-minute trip and needs results right away is likely to face added logistical hurdles.
Rapid PCR solutions that offer quick, onsite processing can help address these challenges.
Recognizing the value of fast results for travelers, Worksite Labs offers rapid PCR COVID-19 testing
“We exclusively offer rapid PCR for in-terminal testing because it’s the best technology for this type of site.”
— Gary Frazier, Worksite Labs CEO
Gary Frazier, CEO of Worksite Labs, has been innovating in the healthcare space long before the pandemic began and predicted early on that lab processing would be a major bottleneck in COVID-19 testing. In response, he began Worksite Labs with a focus on creating and delivering practical, innovative testing models that meet the specific demands of different settings.
Rapid PCR surfaced as the cutting-edge solution that Worksite Labs needed to meet the unique needs of travelers in the airport and on the go, leading the company to open a test location in the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport (SFO). “We exclusively offer rapid PCR for in-terminal testing because it’s the best technology for this type of site. A person can get a last-minute test before traveling, confirm they are COVID-19 negative before exiting the terminal after an international trip, or get cleared to catch a flight during a layover, without ever having to leave the airport,” said Frazier.
Caitlin McNichol, Worksite Labs vice president of marketing, added, “For travelers, having access to a rapid PCR test in the airport terminal delivers convenience and peace of mind. Someone who lives an hour from the airport wants to come right before their flight and get a test in one shot, versus dealing with the anxiety that comes with waiting for a time sensitive result.”
Easy-to-use rapid PCR tests allow Worksite Labs to quickly deliver reliable results to passengers trying to catch a flight
For in-terminal testing, Worksite Labs uses the Thermo Fisher Scientific Accula SARS-CoV-2 Test, leveraging rapid RT-PCR technology in a test cassette to deliver accurate results in about 30 minutes. Note that, accounting for the time needed to complete administrative activities, Worksite Labs guarantees travelers results in 90 minutes.
This quick turnaround time is made possible because samples are processed onsite using Accula’s small, portable, palm-sized dock that plugs into a standard outlet, with 10-second dock initiation/start-up and no data entry required. With this type of rapid PCR platform, there is no need for the complex equipment or dedicated benchtop space that’s required with lab-based PCR processing.
The Accula system is small, easy to use and requires minimal training for authorized laboratories to process samples and deliver rapid, accurate PCR results in approximately 30 minutes.
Rapid-PCR’s speed, accuracy and accessibility make Worksite Labs' efficient in-terminal solution possible
The Accula SARS-Cov-2 Test’s comparable sensitivity to lab based PCR and ability to maintain testing supply despite broader supply chain issues have made the platform an integral part of the company’s in-terminal airport testing solution. “Our experience with the Accula platform has been very smooth. It has been our preferred rapid test option because of availability and reliability. We’ve had zero issues,” Frazier added.
Travelers are encouraged to make appointments for in-terminal COVID-19 testing before arriving at SFO, but walk-ins are also accepted.
As COVID-19 cases fluctuate over time, testing requirements for travel are likely to remain in place into the future
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic will eventually end, experts expect that SARS-CoV-2 will continue to circulate. Along these lines, Frazier doesn’t see the demand for testing in airports decreasing in the near future. “We don’t expect COVID-19 to go anywhere anytime soon, at least in terms of testing,” he said.
The way September 11thcontinues to influence airport security, this pandemic will likely affect travel protocols long after case counts have declined. Access to rapid PCR solutions provides an easy way for people to fly comfortably and safely as long as the threat of infectious disease remains.
The Accula SARS-CoV-2 Test is approved for use in CLIA-waived environments, allowing PCR testing to happen outside of a lab without the need for large equipment investments. To learn more, visit our webpage.
Other case studies
1. Khandker, S. S., Nik Hashim, N., Deris, Z. Z., Shueb, R. H., & Islam, M. A. (2021). Diagnostic Accuracy of Rapid Antigen Test Kits for Detecting SARS-CoV-2: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 17,171 Suspected COVID-19 Patients. Journal of clinical medicine, 10(16), 3493.
Disclaimer: This Accula SARS-CoV-2 Test has not been FDA cleared or approved but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA for use by laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) of 1988, 42 U.S.C. §263a, that meet requirements to perform high, moderate, or waived complexity tests. The test is authorized for use at the Point of Care (POC), i.e., in patient care settings operating under a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, Certificate of Compliance, or Certificate of Accreditation. This test has been authorized only for the detection of nucleic acid from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens. The emergency use of this test is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.
For Use under the Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Only. For prescription use only. For in vitro diagnostic use.