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

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Submitted
BC VOTES 2020: John Rustad re-elected in Nechako Lakes riding

The result is based on preliminary vote count and the final results will be available after Nov.6

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Pixabay photo
‘Horrific’ abuse of volunteers, staff by parents must stop: Chilliwack soccer club

Parents have become abusive after being told COVID-19 rules, email says

FILE – The Queen of Alberni ferry leaves the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal in Delta bound for Vancouver Island, Sunday, July 29, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam) CANADA
Mechanical failure leaves nearly 200 passengers stranded on BC Ferries ship for hours

A tug arrived after dark to safely nudge the vessel into a berth so travellers could finally disembark

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Ridge Meadows RCMP (Black Press)
Maple Ridge X-ray tech convicted of sexual assault dating back 30 years

Allen James Brooks is expected to be sentenced in January 2021

BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson leaves the stage after announcing he is stepping down as party leader, during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, October 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Too rural, not enough diversity, soul searching needed, say BC Liberals

Elections BC says there are about 600,000 mail-in and absentee ballots across the province still to count

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way to provide an update on the COVID pandemic in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. Canada has reached a grim milestone in the COVID-19 pandemic, surpassing 10,000 novel coronavirus deaths. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta COVID deaths pushes Canada past milestone of 10,000 deaths

Canada crossed the threshold of 5,000 deaths on May 12, a little over two months after the first was reported

Most Read