SARS-CoV-2 Testing Before International Airline Travel, December 2020 to May 2021

Aaron J. Tande, Matthew J. Binnicker, Henry H. Ting, Carlos Del Rio, Lindsey Jalil, Matthew Brawner, Peter W. Carter, Kathleen Toomey, Nilay D. Shah, Elie F. Berbari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although there have been several case reports and simulation models of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission associated with air travel, there are limited data to guide testing strategy to minimize the risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure and transmission onboard commercial aircraft. Among 9853 passengers with a negative SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test performed within 72 hours of departure from December 2020 through May 2021, five (0.05%) passengers with active SARS-CoV-2 infection were identified with rapid antigen tests and confirmed with rapid molecular test performed before and after an international flight from the United States to Italy. This translates to a case detection rate of 1 per 1970 travelers during a time of high prevalence of active infection in the United States. A negative molecular test for SARS-CoV-2 within 72 hours of international airline departure results in a low probability of active infection identified on antigen testing during commercial airline flight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2856-2860
Number of pages5
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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