Risk of Covid-19 on flights negligible with PCR test, study suggests


A single PCR test before departure can reduce the chance of catching Covid-19 on a flight to almost nothing, new research has indicated.

Risks of infection on flights where all passengers had tested negative were less than 0.1% according to a study run by Delta Airlines since the start of December.

Henry Ting, the airline’s chief health officer, said: “When you couple the extremely low infection rate on board a Covid-19-tested flight with the layers of protection on board including mandatory masking and hospital-grade air filtration, the risk of transmission is less than one in one million between the United States and the United Kingdom, for example.

“These numbers will improve further as vaccination rates increase and new cases decrease worldwide.”

Delta courted controversy by two weeks ago warning unvaccinated staff they would have to pay an extra $200 (GBP146) per month for health insurance from 1 November, but said this study provides some hope for the sector on another difficult day.

US rival United warned that third-quarter revenue and capacity will be impacted by the slowdown in travel due to a rise in COVID-19 cases fuelled by the Delta variant.

UK-based low-cost carrier EasyJet PLC meanwhile announced a GBP1.2bn rights issue partly to provide some financial insurance to cope if restrictions on travel get worse.

Ting added: “This real-world data – not simulation models – is what governments around the world can use as a blueprint for requiring vaccinations and testing instead of quarantines to re-open borders for international travel.”


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