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30th July 2020  Editorial by: Paul Carton

Paris Airport Rapid PCR Testing Feverish Travellers

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Roissy Airport) is now performing COVID-19 rapid PCR testing on passengers arriving with fever and requesting a negative PCR result from a test done 72 hours prior to landing into the french capital from a high-risk area.

On arriving into Roissy Airport travellers are screened by thermal imaging cameras. If abnormal heat is detected, the individual is then asked for an accurate reading of their temperature. If 38°C or above, they are seen by a medical practitioner, who will decide if the person should be tested for COVID-19. If this is the case, a nasopharyngeal sample is taken and run on Credo Diagnostics VitaPCR™ thermocycler using its CE-marked SARS-CoV-2 molecular assay. 

The instrument, which weighs just over 1kg and is a quarter of the size of common thermocyclers, provides a qualitative result within 20 minutes in contrast to the average one hour wait with most qPCR tests. 

The test targets a region within the nucleocapsid gene and has a limit of detection (LoD) of 2730 copies of viral RNA per ml. This is relatively high, as a recent paper (preprint) published by the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center microbiology laboratory, reported ‘best-in-class’ assays to have an LoD of 100 copies per ml and suggest that each ten-fold increase in LoD is expected to increase the false-negative rate by 13%. 

But as of the 1st of August, Roissy Airport is now requesting incoming travellers from areas of high-risk to supply airport authorities with a negative PCR test result taken in the previous 72 hours and if no test was possible a standard PCR test is carried out, and the person self-quarantines until they receive the result by email.

Availability: Credo Diagnostics Biomedical and A. Menarini Diagnostics have entered into an exclusive long-term strategic distribution partnership. Under this agreement, Menarini will distribute the SARS-CoV-2 assay and other respiratory assays, which includes Influenza A&B, Influenza A&B + Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) panel, and group A Streptococcus (group A strep).

Menarini plans to scale up the availability of tests for this pandemic, managing the distribution of the platform throughout Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Austria and Greece.

The VitaPCR SARS-CoV-2 Assay is also pending Emergency Use Authorization from the US FDA and Emergency Use Listing from the WHO.

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Date Published: 30th July 2020

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