TORONTO (Reuters) – Health Canada expects to authorize new antigen tests for COVID-19 soon, a senior government official said on Tuesday, in an effort to provide additional testing as a second wave of novel coronavirus infections overwhelms laboratories.
Antigen tests can provide rapid results outside of a lab, but may be less accurate than some lab-based diagnostic tests. They are already widely used in the United States and elsewhere.
“We have a number of them under review at the moment – it is our priority,” Supriya Sharma, senior medical advisor for Health Canada, said during a media briefing. “For some of them we are, I think, very close to having a final decision.”
Sharma said the tests under review could be used outside of healthcare settings.
While other countries have approved new ways to test for COVID-19 in recent months, like rapid point-of-care tests, much of Canada is stuck with the basics: deep nasal swabs collected by healthcare workers and sent off to labs.
Some experts have argued that widespread testing in schools and workplaces could help bring the pandemic under control.
The regulator is currently reviewing antigen tests from Abbott, Quidel and Sona Nanotech, according to public data.
As of Sept. 28, Canada has reported 2,176 new cases, taking the total to 155,301, and ten new deaths taking the total 9,278, government data showed.
(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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