British healthcare company Salutaris People has issued a stark warning to those in the travel industry and aviation sector who believe airline passengers that have been vaccinated should not need to be tested or quarantined.
The company warned that such complacency could lead to a potential next wave of infection rates as they labour under the false belief of immunity.
Airline travel played a huge part in the early stages of spreading the Covid-19 virus before a pandemic was declared.
Salutaris People issued a warning to all Governments about the importance of maintaining strict Covid 19 testing programmes between now and the Autumn as infection rates continue to drop.
By ensuring Covid testing programmes are maintained it will provide a Covid-19 ‘early-warning’ detector if global infection rates start rising again.
The UK Government is set to announce its latest plans for travel restrictions being lifted later this week.
It is anticipated this will fall into a traffic light system with countries graded red, amber and green in terms of infection rate level and travel restrictions.
Salutaris People believe that PCR testing has a vital role to play as the air corridors are opened up to travel.
Now more than ever the need for PCR testing is crucial in airline travel as the definitive ‘gold standard’.
Consultant Virologist and Infectious Diseases Physician Dr Brendan Payne (Royal Victoria Infirmary Newcastle Upon Tyne), who advises Akea Life, the clinical services provider to Salutaris People, believes that Covid-19 testing will remain alongside the requirement to wear face masks for at least the next three years in any form of air travel.
“The NHS and Public Health England will need to maintain Covid testing capability indefinitely. Covid will not be eliminated by vaccinations and we need to find long-term solutions to live with it.
“An intensive programme of Covid testing is key as a major defence against new waves and new strains compromising our gains from vaccination.
“I don’t see this changing for at least the next year and probably longer. The most likely scenario for the next few years is a continued arms race between new variants of Covid and vaccination. Widespread Covid testing is absolutely crucial in winning that battle.”
Whilst we know that vaccines provide strong protection, they cannot completely remove the risk of infection and transmission. There is an even greater need to provide continual Covid testing even when infection rates are low to ensure infection control.
Dr Brendan Payne added: “Currently, Covid vaccines are on average perhaps 80% effective and not everyone will agree to have one.
“There will always be a certain number of Covid infections in the public, despite widespread vaccination.
“In many ways, it becomes more important to test widely once Covid numbers become lower because you need to know as quicky as possible if you are starting to lose control of the situation again.
“This is critical in quickly identifying hot spots of infection cases rising.”
Professor Adam Finn of the Government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination & Immunisation also recently warned in the media that unregulated travel could be “very dangerous indeed” stating that plans needed to be “thought through carefully” to avoid losing the progress made over the last few months.
In recent media reports he was quoted as saying; “We certainly got our hands very comprehensively burned in March 2020, when very large numbers of people returned from holidays in Europe with the virus and set the pandemic going in the UK at a very fast rate.
Ross Tomkins MD of Salutaris People said: “The vaccination programme in the UK has been a huge success with around 50 Million first doses of the vaccination administered, 15 Million of those people having had both vaccinations.
“To think for one minute that just because you have had both doses of a vaccination somehow makes you immune to catching Covid-19, or carrying the infection is completely wrong.
“There have not been any long-term scientific studies into the vaccinations to assess how long immunity lasts for, its effectiveness and if you can carry the virus and infect others at the same time.
“To assume that airline passengers – who have had both vaccinations – should somehow become exempt from Covid testing and quarantine is a dangerous precedent to set. To allow this to happen would completely undermine the vaccination process and potentially lead to a massive upsurge in spreading the virus.”
Salutaris People is the clinical lead partner in one of the UK’s first rapid PCR test facilities at a UK airport.
The healthcare company is working in partnership with the Test Assurance Group (TAG) and Liverpool John Lennon Airport to offer rapid on-site PCR tests.
The express testing suite – which has its own on-site laboratory at the airport – provides clients with a rapid PCR test and certificate in 1-3 hours under Fit to Fly.
It also provides other testing services including Test to Release and is expected to announce shortly that it will also be able to offer 2-day and 8-day testing. It is one of the only airports in the UK able to do this, compared to the normal 48-hour turnaround for PCR tests.
Tomkins added: “The real danger lies in Government’s around the world relaxing restrictions and being lulled into a false sense of security over infection rates.
“All Governments must continue to operate strict and mandatory Covid testing protocols to become an ‘early- warning’ system to help prevent any further surges.
“There are a few countries who seem to have much lower levels of the disease and the virus under control, but in other parts of the world the pandemic is spreading very quickly and with new variants.”
The healthcare company is on the UK Government’s approved list of Covid-19 test providers. Salutaris People will have 5 test suites operational by the end of this month