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Could a New COVID-19 Test That Returns Results in Seconds Usher in a Return to Normalcy for the Airline Industry?

Could a New COVID-19 Test That Returns Results in Seconds Usher in a Return to Normalcy for the Airline Industry?

Scientists in Abu Dhabi say they have developed a highly scalable COVID-19 test that can return results in seconds and which could potentially revolutionise the way mass testing for the novel Coronavirus is conducted. The new test uses laser imaging technology and its developers say they are very pleased with initial results.

“The equipment, which uses a CMOS detector, will enable mass-scale screening with results made available in seconds,” explained Dr Pramod Kumar of QuantLase Imaging Lab which has developed the breakthrough ‘Mass-scale screening’ equipment.

“In fact, our laser-based DPI (Diffractive Phase Interferometry) technique, based on optical-phase modulation, is able to give a signature of infection within a few seconds. What’s more, it is user-friendly, non-invasive and low-cost,” Dr Kumar continued.

“The device is suitable for use not only in hospitals and public places like cinemas and shopping malls but with a ‘little hands-on training’ it can be used for in-house testing and monitoring. We believe it will be a game-changer in tackling the spread of the coronavirus.”

Dr Kumar says the technology is currently being trialled on a large scale and his team hopes to rollout the finished product onto the market within months. Aviation industry experts have pinned their hopes on a return to normalcy after the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic coming in the form of either a vaccine or an effective and scalable testing system.

Yesterday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) published its roadmap for reopening borders which and encouraging passengers to travel again despite the threat of the potentially deadly virus.

While IATA supports a layered system of temporary biosecurity measures, including the mandatory wearing of face masks, the Montreal-based aviation trade body has also backed full COVID-19 testing but only once “scalable, accurate and fast results are available.”

The current COVID-19 test approved for use by most governments is an invasive swab-based PCR test which can take at least several hours for results to be returned.

“An effective COVID-19 test with fast results that could be applied on entry to the terminal would enable the airport environment to be considered as ‘sterile’,” the roadmap for restarting aviation explained. “Therefore, this is a measure that needs to be incorporated into the passenger process as soon as an effective test, validated by the medical community, has been developed,” it continued.

“However, this is not the case today.”

Hopes that Emirates had found a rapid and scaleable COVID-19 test were dashed when researchers found the tests had an accuracy of as little as 30 per cent. The airline has since said it would rely on thermal scanning until a more accurate and effective test was developed.

Laser testing might be the development the airline industry was waiting for.,

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