Covid-19 testing is likely to remain in place for international travel throughout 2021, even with the roll-out of vaccines across the world.
Angus Urquhart, sales director at GeneMe UK, which distributes the Frankd Covid test, told the Elman Wall webinar that “testing for travel was going to have a long tail”, as the industry will have to deal with a “part-vaccinated world” this year with countries using different timescales and vaccines.
“We are going to have testing for the foreseeable future – for the remainder of this year,” he said. “Some people think it will continue into next year. It’s not going to go away.
“The critical issue with testing is you’ve got to get speed, efficiency, cost and accuracy all working for you. The critical part is picking up people who have no symptoms.”
Urquhart said GeneMe was currently looking at the possibility of using pool testing for families and groups of travellers this summer to cut the costs of pre-departure Covid tests.
This would allow a group’s tests to be analysed together in one batch rather than each swab being separately checked.
“This would reduce the cost of testing which is quite substantial,” added Urquhart. “If you have to have a negative PCR test that can cost between £100 and £150 per head – that can add £500 to £600 on to the cost and that’s prohibitive.
“Quite a few destinations – Spain, France and Italy – are very close to giving approval for this. Families could use these pool tests to get into key destinations. This could be a very practical way of restarting travel.”
Elman Wall managing director Jonathan Wall added that the industry was going to have to show “patience” to get through the current lockdown but added that there was “positivity” due to the roll-out of Covid vaccines.
“2021 can only be better than 2020 because we have positivity moving forward,” he said. “The key word is patience, you’ve got to suck it up, hunker down and get through to the other side.
“The pandemic is a two-year cycle and we just need to get through that. The future is bright but different.”
UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said UK government plans to require a negative Covid test on arrival in England “must replace the five-day test to release” scheme that was introduced in December.