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The study outlines test strategies for safer air travel during a pandemic




Almost 90% of infectious travelers can be detected by a rapid SARS-CoV-2 test at the airport, and most imported infections can be prevented by a combination of pre-travel testing and 5-day post-travel quarantine. Is done. Negative test results, according to computer simulations by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

This study provides very necessary data for airlines and states that have struggled throughout the pandemic year with little guidance on how to enable safe travel.

The problem is becoming more and more pressing as the state reopens and travelers return to the sky. Air travel has increased since the 2020-2021 holiday season, but only one-third to one-half before the pandemic, according to Transportation Security Administration data.

“This evidence may help standardize COVID-19 inspection and quarantine policies at the airline, city, and state levels of travelers.” Author of a paper published March 22, 2021 Lancet infection.. “Nothing is completely safe and travel always poses a risk to imports into individuals and states, but this is a way to significantly minimize the risk.”

The data in this study came from large-scale computer simulations of how different combinations of testing and quarantine can prevent the spread of COVID-19 by infectious travelers. This model is based on what we already know about the number of people who can be infected on a particular day, how long they can be infected, and the potential for different types of tests to detect infected people. Make a prediction.

This study simulates the likelihood of 100,000 travelers being infected on a particular day immediately before, during, or after a trip, given a variety of pre-travel and post-travel quarantine and testing strategies. did.

“From published literature, we know how the infection spreads, and to what extent various testing and quarantine strategies are possible to protect people from the infection and reduce their potential source of infection in the community. You can simulate the sex, “says Lo. ..

Studies show that both PCR-based testing three days before departure and rapid airport testing reduced the number of infectious travelers by almost 90%, but can only be lifted if the PCR test is negative. Imposing a five-day quarantine is “the number of days of infection,” or two-thirds of the number of days a traveler can spread the virus.

The simulated quarantine had the added benefit of being able to catch people who were negative before departure but were actually infected. People become negative in the early stages of infection and may test positive a few days later. Quarantine prevents the spread of the virus within days of their arrival at their destination.

Scientists were impressed by the finding that rapid tests, such as the Abbott Binax NOW antigen test performed on travelers on the day of travel, were nearly as effective in simulation as pre-travel gold standard PCR. I did. However, they are like Abbott Binax NOW, where many rapid tests did not work well and the results of the study were only applicable if the rapid tests were performed and were studied at UCSF and found to be reliable. Said.

Mathew Kiang, ScD, Fellow of the FXB Health and Human Rights Center at Harvard School of Public Health, the lead author of the treatise, said: “But here, after considering the delay in PCR test results, we found that the same day’s rapid test was about as good.”

He added that rapid testing has the advantage of being a quick and easy alternative for travelers, whereas PCR testing requires an additional trip to be tested a few days before departure. It was.

“It may not be so feasible to ask people to be tested before the day of travel,” he said.

Researchers also found that a 5-day quarantine was almost as effective as a 10- or 14-day quarantine and was likely to be enforceable.

One of the key implications of this study is a pandemic that reduces the import of infections from high-risk areas to low-risk areas by requiring negative tests before and 5 days after the trip.

“After all, it’s a value judgment,” Law said. “These strategies are not perfect, but implementing testing and travel strategies can dramatically reduce the risk of infection during travel.”


Authors: Lo and Kiang’s work was attended by Dr. Lloyd Chapman, Dr. Isabel Rodriguez Barracker, Dr. Brian Greenhouse, Dr. George Rutherford, Dr. Karsten Bibin’s Domingo, and Dr. Diane Habril. Elizabeth Chin and Benjamin Finn of Stanford University. Sanjay Basu, MD, PhD, Harvard Medical School.

Funding: This study was supported by UCSF School of Medicine.

Disclosure: None.

About UCSF: The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) is dedicated to health sciences and is dedicated to health around the world through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education of life sciences and medical professionals, and excellence in patient care. Is dedicated to promoting. As the major academic medical center at UCSF, UCSF Health includes leading specialty hospitals and other clinical programs and is affiliated with the entire Bay Area. For more information https: //, Or see the fact sheet.

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