According to Reuters, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is considering conducting wastewater testing on international air flights. It hopes to detect emerging new COVID variants amid increasing travel curbs for travelers from China.
Experts told Reuters that this measure would give a better way of tracing the virus and slowing its spread into the U.S. than negative PCR test requirements issued by the U.S. and other countries for people traveling from China.
Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, said that travel restrictions, like mandatory testing, have not significantly stopped the spread of COVID so far.
Dr. Eric Topol, a genomics expert at the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, said that testing wastewater from airlines would offer a better solution. In addition, it might give a better picture of how the virus is mutating amid China’s data “accuracy.”
CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said, “Previous COVID-19 wastewater surveillance was shown to be a valuable tool, and airplane wastewater surveillance could potentially be an option.”
Research shows that negative COVID testing requirements before international flights do not help protect countries from containing the spread of new variants.
The Chinese regime has dismissed criticism of its official COVID data. It also has downplayed the risk of new COVID variants and claimed that mutations would be more infectious but less severe.
Questions over official Chinese data have prompted multiple countries to impose travel restrictions for people from China as Beijing lifted travel controls.
The U.S. on Wednesday imposed mandatory COVID tests on travelers from China.
Earlier, Japan required a negative COVID test for China’s travelers upon arrival, while Malaysia applied new tracking and surveillance measures.
Italy also followed the same rules after over half of the passengers on two flights from China tested positive.
Health officials closely watch the situation in other European countries like Germany and France.