Ontario receives entire first batch of federally-ordered rapid COVID-19 tests
Medical staff holds swabs for rapid COVID-19 tests at a high school in Rome, Monday, Sept. 28, 2020. (Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse via AP)
TORONTO -- Ontario has received the entire first batch of rapid COVID-19 tests ordered by the federal government and Premier Doug Ford says that he believes the technology will be a “game-changer” in the fight against the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The feds signed a deal last month with Abbott Diagnostics to purchase 7.9 million ID Now tests, which are capable of producing results in less than 15 minutes without the need to be processed in a lab.
The first shipment of 100,000 of the tests arrived in Canada over the weekend and on Thursday it was confirmed that Ontario will get the entire batch.
Multiple U.S. studies have pegged the ID Now test’s accuracy at approximately 90 per cent.
“One hundred thousand is the first shipment but I want to see millions of these coming to Ontario and I don’t want to toot my own horn but I am going to. I have been pushing Health Canada (to approve the tests) like no one else in this entire country and finally we are seeing results. I just need more kits from Abbott,” Premier Doug Ford said during his regular briefing at Queen’s Park.
Ford said that the initial batch of tests will be deployed to congregate care settings, such as long-term care homes, as well as some isolated First Nations communities in Northern Ontario.
He said that ultimately his government wants as many of the rapid tests “as we can get our hands on” but given the limited numbers is opting to only deploy them to “high priority” areas for now.
“This is a game-changer. It is not everything but it is a game-changer,” he said.
Another 2.4 million of the tests are expected to arrive in Canada by the end of December, though it remains unclear how many of those Ontario will receive.
The federal government has also ordered 8.5 million of another rapid test produced by Abbott Diagnostics but has not received its first shipment of those yet.
Ford, it should be noted, has previously blamed the slow rollout of rapid tests for the lab backlog that the province saw earlier this month when more than 90,000 specimens were being processed at one point.
Speaking with reporters during a briefing on Thursday afternoon, the coordinator of Ontario’s outbreak response Dr. Dirk Huyer said that the tests do not represent a “significant increase in capacity” but will help provide quicker results in areas of the province where it is needed.
“This will add a more rapid turnaround so places where it may be challenging from a logistics point of view or it may be important to have an immediate understanding of a particular positive are where these are being incorporated,” he said.