The Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) has unveiled details of a robust new COVID-19 PCR and antigen testing research program at Toronto Pearson. The program, which starts on March 1, is supported in part by funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). It is designed to explore the efficacy of antigen testing, compared with the rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, in a high-throughput, commercial environment, as well as the operationalization of rapid PCR testing in an airport environment.
Throughout Toronto Pearson’s Healthy Airport transformation, the GTAA has remained committed to a science and data-driven approach, guided by experts in healthcare, diagnostic testing, public health, and industry. This initiative further deepens the GTAA’s focus on contributing to local and national economic recovery, while protecting the community. The findings of this study may have application in other settings, including schools and workplaces.
Deborah Flint, president and CEO, GTAA, said: “The GTAA continues to demonstrate its commitment and leadership in the exploration of the science of COVID-19 testing. Science is at the heart of our Healthy Airport commitment and we are pleased to receive this support from NRC IRAP on this additional testing program, as we pursue further innovation here at Toronto Pearson.”
Flint continued: “This research will contribute substantial new scientific data to the body of knowledge used to fight this disease by improving access to testing that will identify, trace and isolate COVID-19.”
The GTAA looks forward to working with Fionet Rapid Response Group (FRR), a joint venture between Fio Corporation and Relay Medical Corp, who will deploy its digital workflow, testing, and data infrastructure for execution and oversight of this program.
The announcement heralds the creation of new point-of-need testing capacity at the airport. The GTAA will work with a team of Canadian healthcare companies to run a ten-week antigen test study at Toronto Pearson.
The study will make free COVID-19 tests available to employees, as well as testing for eligible passengers on select routes who are willing to volunteer as participants.
The study will begin accepting volunteers on March 1.
Clinical analysis of test swabs will take place on-site at the airport, using LuminUltra’s rapid PCR test, with results provided to the participant within two hours. Participants will also be tested using Response Biomedical rapid antigen tests. Integration of these testing technologies, passenger processes, and all data flows will be managed by the Fionet Platform.
A second study will run in parallel to the federally funded study to compare antigen and rapid PCR tests. The second research stream, the Workplace Antigen Testing Study, will explore the viability of frequent antigen testing within a workforce as a method to quickly identify, trace and isolate COVID-19.
By testing multiple times per week over multiple weeks, researchers will be able to study how frequent use of antigen tests can improve workplace safety by reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.
Go to www.gtaa.com for more.