Aviation Industry Recovery Hopes Dashed as Tech Firm Admits COVID Tests Not Ready

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Aviation Industry Recovery Hopes Dashed as Tech Firm Admits COVID Tests Not Ready
The Virolens test was trialed at Heathrow airport. image: Virolens

Hopes for 20-second Heathrow COVID tests have been scrapped after the tech firm involved admitted it had made a mistake by releasing a statement bragging about its successful trials.

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Hopes for a 20-second Covid-19 test that could save the airline industry, and the tourist sector, have been dashed after the firm behind it reversed their statement about their claim of a successful initial trial. British startup iAbra were said to have developed a saliva test that used machine learning to detect the virus in only 20 seconds.

The Virolens test was touted as the’saviour’ of the aviation industry- however, trials were carried out using harmless ‘inactive’ samples of the virus. image: Virolens

As reported, Heathrow airport agreed to run a trial of the Virolens test with passengers over three weeks, which the company said had been ‘successful’ and would lead to clinical trials. Based on this claim, the share price of TT Electronics, who manufacture the device, shot up a massive40 per cent after performance data was released, valuing it at about €492m (£440m).

However, scientists at Bristol said they were not actually involved with designing the study and had only supplied Iabra with a batch of harmless inactivated samples of the coronavirus that causes Covid-19. A spokesman for Iabra has now said that the original statement had been released by mistake.


‘Virolens is a new application of AI technology that has been developed collaboratively over the past ten years,’ said a company spokesman. “It has the potential to make a significant difference to COVID testing, but it is currently embarking on functional and clinical trials and it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment further until the results of those are known. We are poised to roll out once we receive the requisite approval.”

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