Last reviewed 13 July 2021

British Airways (BA) is the first airline in the world to conduct a trial of an ultra-rapid Covid-19 antigen test that displays results within 25 seconds.

This will initially involve inviting flight and cabin crew members to take the test, with the airline comparing the results against its standard test results. The saliva test can, BA said, detect symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2, including variants.

The cloud-based digital test, using nano-technology, has CE Mark and UK MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) approval and is currently also going through US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval.

The trial is being conducted with medical tech company Canary Global.

The Pelican Covid-19 Ultra Rapid Covid-19 test is a non-invasive saliva ultra-rapid digital antigen test that delivers 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity in symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals with SARS-CoV-2.

Users simply take a sample of their saliva into a disposable sensor unit, shake and insert it into a reusable digital reader which is connected to a Bluetooth-enabled device like a smartphone, and then wait for the results that appear through a mobile app.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “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”.

Canary Global is in discussions with other travel, hospitality and event organisers around the world to help them safely open up with the Pelican ultra-rapid Covid-19 test.

The test could also help to safely open up other business and schools, it suggested. Canary is currently increasing production to meet the global demand.