Groundbreaking cPass Test is set to aid the recovery of Travel Industry across the globe.
The travel and tourism industry was basking in the glory of an unprecedented boom until the world was caught in the spate of a 21st-century pandemic – Covid-19. A year of lockdowns, isolation, social distanced and masked life later, the travel industry is barely hanging on to its last legs. Forget travelling for leisure, even shuttling between places out of necessity has become a challenge. In India, for instance, scheduled international travel remains suspended since March 23, 2020, and all overseas travel is being facilitated under air bubble agreements with several other countries. On February 22, the Union Health Ministry issued a fresh set of guidelines for international travellers to contain the risk of mutant variants of the novel coronavirus spreading in the country.You will find more infographics at Statista
As things stand today, there seems little hope for the revival of the travel and tourism industry by sticking to the measures that have been tried so far. Fortunately, a pioneering new antibody test – the cPass – could well prove to be the measure needed to defibrillate this industry and put it on the path to recovery, becoming your new immunity passport.
What is the cPass Test?
The cPass test, being called the immunity passport, is a pioneering revolutionary test for antibodies that was primarily devised to track down the source from where Covid-19 originated. The test has been invented by a team headed by Professor Wang Linfa, Director of the emerging infectious diseases program at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, who gained recognition for his role in tracing the origin of the deadly SARS outbreak in 2003. It tests the blood for the presence of neutralizing antibodies. These antibodies are treated as an immunity biomarker owing to their ability to prevent the coronavirus strain from infecting the host’s cells. What sets the cPass apart from other Covid tests, and why its big for travel industry, is that the testing process can be completed without using live virus.
Watch: How does cPass test work by the presence of neutralizing antibodies?
All conventional methods to test for neutralizing antibodies involve live virus cells and that’s why they need to be carried out in high safety environments. As a result, getting results can take days. On the other hand, cPass test works with pure proteins and can be completed within an hour in standard laboratory settings.
Why it could be the Immunity Passport?
This groundbreaking new test, which secured authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in November last year besides being permitted for use in the European Union, is being touted as an immunity passport for travellers. There is hope that this could be the solution needed to boost international trade as well as mass travel amid ongoing Covid outbreaks around the world. Reopening mass travel across the world based on neutralizing antibodies tests is considered a safer benchmark for multiple reasons.
Even though no testing method is 100 percent fail-proof, the cPass is a more bankable alternative to relying on vaccinations where even the most efficient drugs risk leaving at least one in 10 people vulnerable to infection or risk of spreading the virus. Besides, it could well be another two to three years before we can achieve a level of global vaccination where herd immunity can be used as the basis of reopening international borders. Until then, countries will be caught in repetitive cycles of imposing and lifting lockdowns, which can be unsustainable for the world economy.
The alternative of using nucleic acid tests as an exit strategy out of the pandemic-induced restrictions has already proven inefficient and dangerous, with scores of travelers testing negative at the time of undertaking a journey and later showing positive results.
Standardizing the cPass as Immunity Passport
Scientists are already working on a cPass test version where a simple finger prick, akin to that of a blood sugar level check for a diabetic, to enhance its scalability. However, for it to work as a measure for rolling back travel bans, scientists also need to work toward establishing a calibrated scale for measuring neutralizing antibodies vis-à-vis the odds of getting or spreading the virus.
Setting the bar on the higher end of the spectrum could be a safe way to establish a global standard where cPass test results can be used as an immunity passport for international travel.
Adapting this test as a gateway for facilitating travel amid Covid won’t be an easy path. For one, the effectiveness of coronavirus neutralizing antibodies are still being researched. Then there are unknowns such as the duration for which these antibodies last. Even so, it is the only available biomarker that can be made functional at a mass scale.