Coming soon to an airport near you: Rapid PCR tests

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Thermo Fisher Scientific's Accula rapid PCR test will be available at 11 U.S. airports by May 1.
Thermo Fisher Scientific's Accula rapid PCR test will be available at 11 U.S. airports by May 1. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific

By May 1, travelers will be able to get rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Covid-19 tests at more than a dozen U.S. airports.

The onset of rapid PCR tests, a molecular test that is more accurate than the long-standing rapid antigen tests, has the potential to ease the way for travel to Hawaii and a variety of foreign countries that do not accept antigen test results.

Results from traditional PCR tests take 24 to 72 hours to come in.

• Related: U.S. airports roll out Covid tests in bid to reopen travel markets

PCR tests offering results in less than hour are already available at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport for $199.

The test, developed by the San Jose, Calif.-based diagnostics company Visby, is accepted by Hawaii, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) said in an April 20 press release, as well as by a number of international destinations.

"By adding a one-hour rapid PCR test, LAX once again is leading the way in airport innovation and guest service and providing travelers with access to dependable and accurate rapid-testing solutions that meet their timing needs," LAWA CEO Just Erbacci said in a statement.

A broader rollout of rapid PCR tests is underway by XpresCheck, an airport testing brand developed by the airport wellness company XpresSpa in response to the pandemic.

XpresCheck deployed the rapid Accula PCR test of Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher Scientific at New York JFK and Houston Bush this month. In addition, two XpresCheck locations each in Boston and Newark airports as well as XpresCheck locations in Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle and at Washington Dulles and Washington Reagan will offer rapid PRC tests by May 1.

Tests are $225 at JFK and $250 at the other locations. The tests are accepted by Hawaii's Trusted Testing Partner program. Results are promised within 30 minutes.

Rapid PCR tests are also now available at the Pittsburgh and Grand Rapid, Mich., airports via Georgia-based provider Tackl Health. Results are promised within 30 minutes. The Tackl tests cost $275.

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