Several airlines are offering airport testing partnerships to help open up travel to places like Hawaii, which accept negative rapid antigen tests as a way for arriving passengers to skip quarantine. Airlines are also partnering for at home tests as well. These efforts are commendable as a way to open up travel, but don’t bring travel back on their own.
- People need something to do when they reach their destination, so life where you’re going needs to be pretty normal
- And if the virus is rapidly spreading somewhere, people probably aren’t going to go in any case.
Nonetheless if we could get everyone on a flight tested, that would give confidence to travel since you’d know everyone else had tested negative. And more testing should at least help reduce government bans on travel. It’s a hurdle to jump through, but it’s less of a hurdle than a quarantine or prohibition.
Testing could also bring back restaurant dining, stadium sports, and conference travel. If testing was cheap enough and convenient enough, people could test themselves whenever they were going somewhere. The test might link to an app on their phone, where a QR code shows the place they’re going that they’ve just tested negative. And everyone could be required to present a negative test.
Rapid tests may not be the gold standard of lab-confirmed, but scaled testing with quick results is more prophylactic than limited testing with slow results. We aren’t there yet, in fact we aren’t close. And dealing with false positives is a challenge too.
Nonetheless we have to be making progress when Costco.com is now selling a saliva PCR test online that promises results returned in 24-72 hours. That’s the range needed for many destinations (though the outer bound plus time to get the sample to the lab could run into a problem for other destinations as well, check the specific testing requirements of your destination). And it’s not the awful nasal swab, either.
This isn’t available in Pennsylvania, Nevada, or Maryland, and they can’t ship to Puerto Rico. But it’s something you can buy from Costco as a one-off and you don’t even need to buy a pallet of tests. The price may work for a trip, but for return to normal life we really do need sub-$5 tests, which are certainly possible.
(HT: Marginal Revolution)