First Antigen tests approved by Health Canada

By Reann Fournier, Special to The Record
First Antigen tests approved by Health Canada

The Government of Canada has signed a new agreement with Abbott Rapid Diagnostics earlier this week for the purchase of up to 20.5 million Panbio COVID-19 Antigen rapid tests in an effort to increase testing for COVID-19 across the country. These tests are the first antigen devices approved by Health Canada, and can produce results in less than 20 minutes.
According to a statement from Health Canada following the announcement, this technology is used to identify if a person is infected with COVID-19 and works by detecting specific proteins associated with the virus. The tests will be distributed to provinces and territories, especially COVID-19 hotspots as the need for testing spikes and the number of cases climb.
Health Canada has authorized the tests as ‘point-of-care’ tests, which means that they can be used by trained health professionals in pharmacies, walk-in clinics, or doctor’s offices.
“The strategy is to enhance the capacity of provinces and territories to keep up with the increasing demand for tests,” said Public Services and Procurement Minister, Anita Anand in the press release announcing the news.
Anand pointed out that throughout the pandemic, there has been debate around testing centers in the country and push for the government to improve testing, making it more accessible, easier, and finding ways to cut down on wait times. This new form of testing will not be a replacement for the standardized model, but an enhancement of the offering.
Anand said that an initial 8.5 million tests will be distributed, and that if the government is satisfied with the test’s performance, another 12.5 million will be available for order.
Patty Hadju, Minister of Health, described testing as a ‘key pillar’ in Canada’s response to the pandemic.
“This is why Health Canada has prioritized the review of all types of COVID-19 tests,” commented Hadju.
The approval of new testing methods will provide extra support for healthcare officials.
“This new agreement with Abbott Rapid Diagnostics adds to our growing roster of rapid tests,” said Anand, “which will support our healthcare professionals in targeting and responding to new outbreaks of the virus.”

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