A health-care worker gets a swab ready at a temporary COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal, on Friday, May 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

First antigen rapid test for COVID-19 gets Canadian approval

Health Canada will distribute both tests to provincial and territorial governments

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada is buying more than 20 million of the rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 approved by Health Canada today.

Abbott Rapid Diagnostics in Germany got the green light from Health Canada to sell its Panbio antigen rapid test in Canada this morning.

Canada has also signed a contract with Abbott that will see the company ship 20.5 million of the ruler-sized test devices to Canada.

This approval comes a week after Health Canada authorized the use of another rapid test from Abbott Diagnostics in the United States.

That test, the ID Now kit, can provide results in as little as 13 minutes on the spot where the patient is tested. The ID Now test looks for the genetic material of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The Panbio test uses antigen technology, and can produce results in less than 15 minutes. Antigens are unique molecules found on the outside of a particular virus.

Canada is buying 7.9 million of the ID Now tests, and another 3,800 of the analyzer boxes that are needed to run the results. The Panbio test does not need an analyzer box, and looks somewhat like a pregnancy test, with a little window on a stick that shows positive or negative results.

Health Canada will distribute both tests to provincial and territorial governments through an allocation agreement that is supposed to ensure equitable distribution that takes into account each jurisdiction’s need.

Health Canada will not say how many of each test will be sent to which province or when. About 2.5 million of the ID Now tests are expected by the end of the year, with the first delivery to take place next week.

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said in the House of Commons Monday the government promised rapid tests six months ago, hitting a recurring theme in Tory questions to the Liberals.

“Their slow response is impacting millions of Canadians,” he said. “In Quebec, it is the long lineups. In Ontario, it is the labs that are stretched to the limit. In Manitoba, it is confusion over buying rapid tests. When is the prime minister going to take the help of Canadians seriously and roll out a real plan for rapid testing?”

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said she too wants to see more rapid tests in this country.

“I share the member opposite’s view that rapid testing is absolutely essential to our health,” she said. “It is absolutely essential to our economic recovery.”

The ID Now tests came under some scrutiny in the United States over the weekend when it was revealed they were used at the White House to test staff almost daily.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, the senior medical adviser to the deputy minister of health, said in an interview that in Canada the tests are approved only for use on patients who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, and only within the first seven days after symptoms appear.

She said Health Canada is confident in the studies that show ID Now tests accurately diagnose a positive case 92.9 per cent of the time, and that negative results are accurate more than 98 per cent of the time.

Abbott’s website says the Panbio test is accurate with positive results 93 per cent of the time, and negative results 99 per cent of the time.

Panbio is the fourth test approved by Health Canada that can be completed without sending specimens to a laboratory and is the second that can provide results in 15 minutes or less.

The other two tests are Hyris’s BCube, which takes about 90 minutes to deliver results, and Cepheid’s GeneExpert, which provides results in under an hour.

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID regulations hit shortly after the grand opening of the Chemainus library. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Chemainus library open again for walk-through service

Takeout policy still an option for those who prefer it as precautionary measure

RCMP. (Black Press file photo)
Driver escapes serious injury after car winds up in ditch

Driving for conditions imperative at this time of the year, police advise

You never knew who was going to show up at the Maple Lane Cafe in Chemainus on Halloween. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Pumpkin search, colouring contest provide some Halloween fun

Times may be different due to COVID, but nothing everything shut out from enjoyment

Daylight Saving Time officially ends at 2 a.m. Sunday when it’s time to turn the clocks back one hour. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Time for a change

Put your clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

MMFN First Nation has said that it will restrict access to portion of Highway 28 that passes through the Nation’s land until a road use agreement is reached. (Black Press file photo)
Vancouver Island First Nation blocks highway access to logging trucks in Gold River

Mowachaht/Muchalaht First Nation restricting access for Western Forest Products pending road deal

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Most Read