COVID-19: provinces still use rapid screening tests

OTTAWA – Over 3.8 million rapid tests for COVID-19 are now in the hands of provincial public health authorities, but several jurisdictions are still evaluating how these kits can help fight the pandemic.

Health Canada has approved more than three dozen types of tests, but only six of them are seen to have out-of-laboratory testing capability for COVID-19, hence their nickname rapid test.

The detection of COVID-19 in the laboratory, which is the standard reference, requires at least a day before arriving at the result. Rapid detection tests can provide the result, sometimes in as little as 15 minutes, and at the patient’s location.

There are two categories of rapid tests. One is looking for the genetic material of the new coronavirus, such as laboratory analysis. The other looks for antigens, that is to say the traces that the virus leaves outside the cell.

Since September 29, Canada has announced its intention to acquire nearly 38 million rapid COVID-19 tests from five different manufacturers. The first distributions to the provinces began at the end of October.

To date, more than 3.8 million rapid tests have been delivered to provinces.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the announcement of the acquisition of these rapid detection kits as a “turning point” in the fight against the pandemic.

Canada signed an agreement at the end of September with Abbott Diagnostics in the United States to purchase 7.9 million “ID Now” tests.

No change observed yet

For the moment, little change has been observed in the provinces with the arrival of these rapid detection tests.

This is due to the fact that most provinces are still questioning the reliability of the results obtained or how to use these tests better. In almost all cases, each rapid detection test used was accompanied by a laboratory analysis to ensure the validity of the diagnosis.

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