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Modelling the effectiveness of airport testing regimes

Since June 2020, the UK has required all international travellers to the UK, except those arriving from a list of exempt (‘travel corridor’) countries, to quarantine for 14 days. Unlike several other countries, the UK has not introduced any scheme to test travellers for COVID-19. We understand that part of the basis for this policy is evidence presented in a paper by Public Health England (PHE) that concluded testing on arrival at an airport would identify only 7% of virus cases and so would not be effective at helping to control the spread of COVID-19.

Oxera and Edge Health, with input from Dr Kit Yates, were commissioned by a consortium of airlines, airports and industry organisations to undertake a review of the PHE paper, as well as two other studies on the effectiveness of testing schemes—one from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and one from the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). This review identified areas where the existing modelling could be improved.

View the press release