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Craving international travel? A new 15-minute COVID-19 test could be the answer

Speaking at a recent aviation conference, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce asserted there was “reason to be optimistic” regarding international travel following COVID-19.

Trying to predict anything this year? Yeah, good luck. COVID-19 has officially wiped out international travel, meaning that you may have to wait a while before rebooking that European holiday.

Now, imagine being a working member of the aviation industry. Your career has obviously been shaken by the C-word. But all hope is not lost; there might be a method to put people back in planes sooner than expected.

covid-19 international travel
Photo: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

Now, most people (and not just those flying planes with $80 million worth of cocaine) agree that it would be ideal to have international air travel back as soon as possible.

Currently, Qantas has halted the possibility until July 2021, with the possibility of an earlier trans-Tasman bubble. This is obviously because it’s just not feasible right now, and would probably result in even more lay-offs. But the good news is that the company’s CEO has offered some much-needed optimism on the future possibility of international travel.

The first nugget of potential travel goodness is the race for the holy cure for COVID-19. If the vaccine becomes available.. at the lightning speed it’s happening, we may see earlier operations of international services,” Joyce described at a CAPA Centre for Aviation summit, according to Traveller.

Good to know that aviation heavyweights like Qantas would “change that dynamic in 2021” (aka rethink the international travel shutdown) if a vaccine becomes public.

The second, and far more exciting nugget, is in regards to health technology. Hope you’re ready for some serious swabbing action because it might just be the ticket to ride.

If Qantas received permission to operate a 15-minute COVID test pre-flight on all its passengers, overseas travel would become safe again without even requiring a vaccine. What’s more, people wouldn’t even have to quarantine on the other end.

The tests, known as rapid antigen tests (or BinaxNOW), work by identifying the presence of a viral protein which exists in SARS-CoV-2. Unfortunately, at this point, the 15-minute test isn’t as accurate as the old up-the-nose testing method, but it has the bonus of not needing to be sent to a lab for processing.

Here’s to hoping, and here’s to the scientists putting in the hard work right now. Finding ourselves in Europe is truly in your hands.

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