YVR, WestJet partner with UBC for new COVID-19 rapid testing pilot program

The University of British Columbia will help select the test used in a new COVID-19 rapid testing study, the Vancouver International Airport and WestJet announced Thursday.

“They (UBC) really have the experts to be able to advise us on which test is going to have the highest efficacy, which one is going to give us the quality of results that we need in a short timeframe, because of course that’s the objective for travel,” YVR CEO Tamara Vrooman told the Richmond News.

As part of the pilot program – first announced in late August – passengers could receive their test results prior to boarding their flight, said Vrooman.  

The program will be available to WestJet passengers on select flights departing out of YVR. Participation in the study will be voluntary.

Vrooman said the partners are aiming to get the pilot study up and running at the airport next month.

Data collected from the study will help inform protocol at YVR and WestJet, and will also be shared with health authorities to support public health knowledge and decision-making around COVID-19 testing and tracing in B.C.

“We do believe that testing is going to be part of the reality of travel and certainly of operating an airport for the foreseeable future, so we also want to understand in our own operations how best to efficiently and safely administer (the test),” said Vrooman.

The next step in the project will be asking passengers to share their thoughts, perceptions and willingness to undergo voluntary COVID-19 testing.