The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called on world governments to take action to address the high cost of COVID-19 tests and called for flexibility, ie the use of cost-effective antigen tests as an alternative to more expensive PCR tests. IATA has also recommended that governments adopt recent ones World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines to consider exempting vaccinated passengers from testing requirements.
According to the latest IATA passenger survey, 86% of respondents are willing to get tested. But 70% also believe that testing costs are a significant barrier to travel, while 78% believe that governments should bear the cost of mandatory testing.
“IATA supports testing on COVID-19 as a way to recover international travel, but our support is not unconditional. In addition to being reliable, testing must be readily available, accessible and appropriate to the level of risk. The cost of testing varies from state to state and has little to do with the actual cost of conducting testing. The best example is the UK which has failed to adequately manage testing. It is expensive at best, extortionate at worst. In both cases, the scandal is that the government charges VAT. "said Willie Walsh, CEO of IATA.
The new generation of rapid tests costs less than $ 10 per test, and World Health Organization guidelines say rapid antigen tests are an acceptable alternative to PCR testing, IATA said, adding that where testing is mandatory, international health regulations state that neither passengers nor carriers should not bear the cost of testing.
Testing must also be appropriate to the level of threat. For example, in the UK, the latest National Health Service data on inbound passenger testing shows that more than 1,37 million tests have been conducted on arrivals from so-called amber countries. In four months, only 1% of those tested were positive. Meanwhile, almost three times as many positive cases are detected in the general population every day.
The relaunch of international travel is key to supporting 46 million jobs in travel and tourism around the world that rely on aviation.
“Our latest research confirms that high testing costs will greatly affect travel recovery. There is no point in governments taking steps to reopen borders if travel costs become too high for most people. We need a restart that is accessible to all. ”, Walsh concluded.