COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Rapid test study at YVR

A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport.

The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet's domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada.

The Calgary and Toronto airports have hosted studies to rapidly test passengers who are arriving, rather than departing.

The study in B.C. involves researchers from the University of British Columbia and Providence Health Care, who are responsible for collecting the samples.

The airport authority says in a statement a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19 and those who test positive would have to undergo testing approved by Health Canada, with their flights cancelled or changed at no charge.

Dr. Don Sin, co-principal investigator and a professor at UBC's faculty of medicine, says the study will help public health leaders understand how people who don't have symptoms of COVID-19 are contributing to the spread of the illness.

"We know that asymptomatic carriers exist, but what we don’t know is exactly how common it is," he says in a statement.

The airport authority says that prior to launching the study, researchers evaluated several rapid tests that use nose swabs and oral rinses, and passengers' test results should be available within 20 minutes.

It says researchers plan to submit the results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal once the study wraps up, in an effort to contribute to a future testing framework for the aviation industry.

The study is open to WestJet passengers who are B.C. residents between the ages of 19 and 80, and who haven't tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days.

More BC News