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5 Covid Tests for Travel - Which One is Right for You? (2021)

VIDEO |Know the Difference Between PCR, NAAT, LAMP, Antigen & Antibody Covid Tests for Travel?


Which Covid-19 test for travel should YOU use? If you've had the vaccine (and you're fully vaccinated) can you travel freely?  Many people are only aware of the PCR test for travel, but there's now plenty of other cheaper and faster covid-19 testing options. I'll break down the topic and explain everything you need to know, to travel safely and conform to the requirements...

There's currently 5 different COVID-related tests for travel purposes: PCR, NAAT lamp, antigen, and antibody.

We can rule out the antibody tests because they're designed to detect if you've had COVID in the past. I think China's the only one ask him for that. Goodness knows why. As for the remaining tests, there's two categories. First, those that have to be sent to a lab, which include the PCR and NAAT tests and the second group, which give faster results, those are the antigen and lamp tests. You're with me so far?

For the lab tests, the challenge is the time that it takes to get the results back from the lab. The majority of lab cite processing times have between two to four days. Unfortunately you're only allowed to use a test that's taken three days or 72 hours before you travel. So if you get the result back on day three or four, you'll have missed your flight. It's a big problem. And sadly, it means that many passengers either have to cancel their trip or be subjected to forced quarantine at their destination. The good news is that both the U.S. and U.K. now are accepting the rapid and cheaper antigen-style tests for entry into those countries. That definitely makes life a lot easier, but frankly, the communication around this is an epic fail. For example, the UK government's website gives the following instructions for people traveling into England under the section test providers and type of tests, it says,

"The test must meet performance standards of great to the 97% specificity, greater than 80% sensitivity of viral loads, above a hundred thousand copies, a milliliter."

I don't speak 'scientist' and I barely passed basic maths at school, let alone figuring out the percentage viral loads of COVID tests. It gets worse.

The same website says:

"This could include tests such as a nucleic acid test, including a polymerase chain reaction test or derivative technologies, including loop-mediated, isothermal amplification tests, or an antigen test, such as a test from a lateral flow device."

What?! I know I'm from the country that invented English, but even I have no idea what language that sentence was in. I can't tell if they're talking about COVID tests or teaching me to fix my car.  If the government don't know, how did they expect us to know? Imagine grandpa Chuck and grandma Betty from Arkansas, trying to make sense of all. This is mission impossible isn't it?  No wonder travelers are so confused. It used to be the all you needed to fly was a possible or an ID. Now it seems like you need three years of med school.

All I can say is to triple-check the requirements several weeks before you travel, and book your test as soon as you can, because many travelers are reporting that they can't even get the test that they want because all the appointments have been taken up. By the way, if you've been vaccinated, you might think that you can avoid all of these tests, but sadly, that's not the case right now at the moment having the vaccine makes absolutely no difference whatsoever to the test requirements for entry into these various countries. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Oh, and I didn't even touch on the miserable situation of people who've had COVID. Some people keep getting a positive result for months after they've recovered. Many airlines don't understand this. And so they're unfairly turning perfectly healthy people away. It's enough to make you cry into your travel pillow. If that describes your situation, make sure you get a letter from your doctor who can confirm that you've already had. COVID recently. Now, needless to say, we really, really, really need a better perhaps even universal approach to testing for travel. It really is a mess.

Hopefully, the situation will improve over time, but for now it's a real roller coaster for everyone involved. And when I say rollercoaster, I mean that type, where you get sick, you then get stuck hanging upside down and then all your money falls out of your pockets.

Q: Have you been confused by all the different types of tests?  Which tests have you had experience with?  Was it straightforward to book the test, or did you struggle to find a provider?  We’d love to hear from you - please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments. We value your feedback!  Also, we always love and appreciate it when you share the show with your friends and travel buddies - thank you!

🎥 This travel clip is from Episode #5 of The Travel Pro Show! Click Here to Watch the Full Episode!


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