Speed is of the essence: Canada falling behind in rapid COVID testing - Healthy Debate
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Speed is of the essence: Canada falling behind in rapid COVID testing

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3 Comments
  • Tony Hunt says:

    Please get this information out there. Frequent, low cost testing tied to infectiousness is critical to being able to manage the virus and it’s deleterious impact on society !!

  • Ian says:

    The potential effectiveness of antigen tests is compelling and not directly comparable to PCR tests. Antigen tests are less sensitive than PCR tests but are an order of magnitude cheaper and designed to show positive when someone is becoming infectious, i.e. when someone’s viral load is higher. A significant proportion of transmission is said to be from people who are carrying the virus but not aware they are infected. Cheap tests (Michael Mina cites $1 US a test at scale, which could be $2 or less Canadian if we made them here) that could be taken every few days by people who regularly face exposure risk (teachers, people who work in grocery stores, for example) would allow those who became infected to know earlier and to isolate themselves, following up with a diagnostic PCR test. We can’t afford to use expensive PCR tests every few days but the ability to do COVID surveillance testing could really help to reduce spread. For the cost of 1 PCR test we could be doing over 100 antigen tests at home.

  • Emily MacLean says:

    Totally agree that we need to be adopting other additional testing strategies, including rapid testing. Couple questions:

    1. If we’re talking about a screening test, isn’t sensitivity the optimised characteristic we really want? We want to maximize positives who can then isolate and go on for further testing, and we want the true negativity rate to be high. Then, people with negative test results can go about their work/school/etc day.
    2. In the case of COVID-19 products generally, I disagree that we should just blindly follow what the US is procuring. We’ve already seen how certain tests with EUA approval have had poor accuracy. Why should we be following their example on anything COVID-related?
    3. How do you get the message out there that a negative result on a low sensitivity rapid test doesn’t necessarily mean the tested person is healthy? What would the next step look like after a negative test for someone who thinks they may have COVID?

Authors

Wendy Wang

Contributor

Wendy Wang is a third year Lakehead University student studying applied life sciences with a concentration in biomedical sciences and a volunteer with the Critical Drugs Coalition.

Ahmed Bagit

Contributor

Ahmed Bagit recently graduated from Brock University with a degree in Medical Sciences. He is a founder of the Critical Drugs Coalition, a group of pharmaceutical experts, physicians and others working on alleviating future drug shortages in Canada.

Amirpouyan Namavarian

Contributor

Amirpouyan Namavarian is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Toronto, has an interest in clinical education and is a co-founder of the Critical Drugs Coalition.

Abdulwahab Sidiqi

Contributor

Abdulwahab Sidiqi is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Toronto, has an interest in clinical education and is a co-founder of the Critical Drugs Coalition.

Kashif Pirzada

Contributor

Kashif Pirzada is an emergency physician in Toronto and faculty member at the University of Toronto and a founder of the Critical Drugs Coalition, a group of pharmaceutical experts, physicians and others working on alleviating future drug shortages in Canada.

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