As other countries move forward, Health Canada remains silent on COVID-19 home testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proudly announced last week a partnership with the Ontario government to provide employees of key businesses with faster COVID-19 testing, but it is unclear whether federal health officials think it can Get tested by: All Canadians use it at home on pharmacy shelves.

In some countries (including the United Kingdom, Germany, and the United States), this home COVID-19 test is part of the pandemic policy promotion, as the government tries to foresee life in a society where more people are re-engaged but not everyone is vaccinated.

Dr. Kevin Schwartz, an infectious disease doctor at the St. Joseph Health Center in Toronto, said: “It’s definitely not too late to do the right thing.” Co-authored articles Recently on the easy-to-use quick test utility.

Advocates say that even during the vaccination process, there is a place for self-testing to screen for infection. No vaccine is 100% effective, and some people cannot or will not get a vaccine. As immunity weakens, a booster vaccine for COVID-19 may be needed.

Schwartz said he believes that “public health measures that control the virus and allow us to be safe and open” are still needed and remain open.

This idea is that an accurate test can produce results in less than an hour. These people are obviously asymptomatic. This may be a key first screening tool that can reduce potential disease outbreaks and reduce potential disease outbreaks by one year. A tiring burden. Traditional laboratories are in terms of resources, cost and waiting time.

A traveler who arrived at Toronto Pearson International Airport in February showed a set of home COVID-19 test kits to all international arrivals before boarding the shuttle bus of the quarantine hotel. (Carlos Osorio/Reuters)

Both the United Kingdom and Germany provide so-called lateral antigen tests for free to encourage people to buy things in pharmacies, test them at home, and then report the results online or through apps.

In its marketing materials, the National Health Service encourages Britons to adopt a “do it yourself” approach. He said: “With the relaxation of lock-in restrictions, the habit of regular testing twice a week will play an important role in maintaining the development of life.”

Pharmacists in Ontario say home tests are needed

Justin Bates, CEO of the Ontario Association of Pharmacists, said that the pharmacies here should be able to handle this kind of initiative, both directly managing the process and helping the process. Rapid antigen testing for programs related to businesses and schools.

Bates said he did not know that Health Canada was about to approve any home tests, which was not uncommon, but he said it was the logical next step.

He said: “If we really want to ensure the safety of the people and keep the economy open, that’s what we have to do.” “We need to get these tests in the community in an easy-to-use way, and these tests don’t incur a lot of cost. Or use disorder.”

Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina (Michael Mina) is an advocate of home testing. He outlines the possible use of these scenarios, including when a person is deciding whether to participate in a large event or a more intimate gathering. There will be vulnerable people. , Or the symptoms that your child has when he comes home from school may indicate COVID-19, influenza, or the common cold.

Antigen tests look for viral proteins, not persistent genetic material, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test processed in the laboratory. Therefore, in an interview with CBC News last year, Mina compared home testing to the role of a “security guard” rather than a “diagnostic” function to diagnose someone who currently or recently has COVID-19.

Listen | Dr. Michael Mina tells Quirks and Quark about the quick test (November 2020):

Quirks and quarks12:04Can rapid COVID “antigen” testing break the root cause of the pandemic?

Testing may be the key to ending the COVID pandemic 12:04

If someone gets a positive result in a home test, it is recommended that they seek confirmation of the PCR result through official channels.

The products offered by American pharmacies are not free, including the lateral flow test of the domestic manufacturer Abbott and the Australian company Ellume, and the so-called molecular test conducted by Lucira in the United States. The price of the first two test kits is about $20-25, while the price of the two test kits is about twice that of the latter.

U.S. company obtains “conditional” authorization

Lucira pointed out in a press release in late April that the product had been “conditionally authorized” in the country, but Health Canada never commented on the approval at the time.

Lucira said that its test should be available for Canadians to order online before June, at a price of approximately US$75, excluding tax and delivery fees. At this price and online distribution model, they will not become a mass solution.

Last month, a Greek high school student took a self-test for COVID-19 at his home in Athens. In Greece, students and teachers returning to school are required to use the COVID-19 test kit twice a week. (Milos Bikanski/Getty Images)

When CBC News asked Health Canada about Lucira’s approval and how close the agency’s decision to consider antigen in situ testing was, they basically received no response and made a general response to continue monitoring them. Future authorized website.

Health Canada pointed out: “Although molecular (PCR) laboratory testing is the gold standard for diagnostic testing, there are still many technologies and test methods that can complement diagnostic testing.”

Health Canada said last year that it would not consider testing at home due to concerns about accuracy, but later Changed position.

Regarding accuracy, the British government spoke up last week Independent research Said that compared with the PCR laboratory test, a home test approved by it has a specificity rate of 100% and a sensitivity of 96.4%.

Specificity refers to the ability of the test to correctly identify non-viral testers, while sensitivity refers to the ability to detect COVID-19 positive.

For Schwartz of the St. Joseph Health Center, the rhetoric surrounding rapid home testing often focuses on occasional false negative results, and these false negative results will eventually occur at the “personal level” rather than at the “population level” “Relief.

British Health Minister Matt Hancock spoke to the media in London in March. Since last month, the British government has encouraged Britons to conduct free home tests for COVID-19 online or in pharmacies, and report the results online or through apps. (Hannah McKay/Reuters)

He said: “Our goal is not to infect every infected person, but to infect people with a high enough viral load to reduce the infection rate so that it can be controlled at the population level.” “If we do this way Start thinking, then these tests will be very meaningful for implementation.”

Schwartz said that to make home testing less accurate than PCR testing and put it on the market, it is to choose not to screen at all.

Home test not mentioned by Trudeau

Even home test supporters like Mina admit In recent podcasts He is not sure whether people will develop the habit of regular self-testing.In the UK, the government has withdrawn Advertisement in newspaper Explain the test and encourage its use.

A writer Technology Review from MITExpressed concern that user errors will cause false positives. If the false positives are amplified by stories in the media, it may prevent their widespread use.

Watches | Advocates tout rapid testing, but the deployment is not balanced:

Many companies and schools across Canada are using rapid COVID-19 testing and field testing techniques to help detect asymptomatic cases and prevent the spread of the virus. 7:41

Finally, Canada does have Efforts to deploy all allocations for rapid testing It is even used in workplaces and schools.

But it seems that it will take several months to wait for most Canadian teenagers to be vaccinated, and it is not clear when children under the age of 12 can be tracked.

As more and more parents return to work in the field, the option that can afford to take the exam at home may be welcomed because they may endure the long-lasting test lineup, the traditional laboratory waiting time and the subsequent release of their children from school Possibility of two weeks. The detection of a single confirmed COVID-19 case in a given classroom.

On Wednesday, Trudeau generally mentioned “screening”, which is essential for Canada to get rid of the current COVID-19 dilemma and prevent future waves, but again, home testing is not in the scope of discussion.

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