Health Canada approves rapid COVID testing device as Canada braces for caseload spikes


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Health Canada regulators today approved the ID NOW rapid COVID-19 testing device for use in this country — a move that could result in millions more tests for communities across the country grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases.

The Abbott Laboratories-backed molecular devices can be administered by trained professionals at like places like pharmacies, without the need for a laboratory to determine if someone is infected with the virus.

The approval comes only a day after the federal government announced that it would buy some 7.9 million ID NOW tests from the U.S.-based firm for distribution in Canada. The point-of-care devices can produce COVID results in 15 minutes.

To date, the vast majority of tests have been done at public health clinics, with samples then sent to laboratories for analysis — a process that can take days.

Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said Tuesday that the purchase was designed to help the provinces and territories offer more testing options as some cities face hours-long lines at public health testing centres.

The United States Food and Drug Administration first issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) to Abbott for the ID NOW device in March — just one of 248 such authorizations the U.S. has issued for testing devices since the onset of the pandemic.

Some researchers have said this Abbott device has led to false positives in a small number of cases. The FDA re-issued a revised EUA on Sept. 18, saying that the test should be administered within the first seven days of the onset of symptoms.

Read more at CBC.ca