Recent CDC guidelines permit travelers to self-administer a rapid antigen test under the real-time supervision of a telehealth service and use the verified negative result to board an international flight to the U.S., according to a news release.
The collaboration will combine Abbott’s BinaxNOW COVID-19 test and the NAVICA app to provide testing and make international travel to the U.S. safer and easier for travelers amid the ongoing pandemic.
“We appreciate the private sector proactively helping travelers have access to easy, reliable COVID-19 test options,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky said in the release. “Comprehensive testing that is easy, rapid, accurate and trusted is a fundamental strategy for preventing the spread of COVID-19.”
BinaxNOW was initially authorized and launched in August, while Abbott has since scaled up production at new U.S. manufacturing facilities to produce 50 million tests per month. Almost straight away, the U.S. government purchased 150 million tests for $750 million and, in recent months, the test became available for sale over-the-counter in the U.S.
“The BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid test is the most studied and widely used rapid test in the United States today and with our partner United, we’re making testing even more broadly available as the country returns to international business and leisure travel,” EVP of Abbott’s rapid & molecular diagnostics business Andrea F. Wainer said. “The CDC’s recent guidance also reinforces the importance of our NAVICA app, because airlines and other safety-conscious industries, such as workplaces and higher education, will need digital solutions that can be used to quickly and easily validate and verify test results.”
United customers will be able to take a BinaxNOW test in their carry-on bag when they depart the U.S. and administer the test through the eMed digital health platform while overseas to provide the result that would allow them passage back to the U.S. BinaxNOW is a lightweight kit designed to fit easily into a carry-on-sized bag. United suggests that passengers travel with more than one test in their possession in case of an inconclusive result.
“We want to give our customers greater peace of mind that when they travel internationally, they’ll be able to return to the U.S quickly and safely,” added United chief customer officer Toby Enqvist. “The Abbott BinaxNOW Home Test meets CDC requirements and, along with our partners at Abbott, United is doubling down on our commitment to make international travel as safe and convenient as possible by offering an easy testing option when customers are ready to return to the United States.”
A CDC study published in January showed that BinaxNOW registered a sensitivity of 71.1% among symptomatic patients who reported signs of COVID-19 within the previous seven days, while Abbott’s own data reported 84.6% sensitivity and 98.5% specificity.