Ottawa establishes COVID-19 Supply Council as rapid testing efforts fail

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Federal government says it has established a National Supply Board to improve Canada’s efforts to acquire equipment and other tools to stop the spread of COVID-19 as the provinces take control the first steps to reopen businesses closed by the crisis.

Purchasing Minister Anita Anand said on Sunday that the COVID-19 Supply Board aims to strengthen the country’s existing supply chains for items like masks, gloves and disinfectants.

It will also improve the sourcing, production, shipping and distribution strategies for these goods.

“From start to finish – from manufacturer to arrival or production in Canada – what can we do differently to ensure we have adequate, effective and efficient supplies in our government and everywhere in the country? Said Anand.

The news was part of a series of announcements Sunday, including a new $ 240 million commitment to bring mental health and primary care services online, and a unique addition to the Canada Child Benefit which will see eligible families receive an additional $ 300. per child as part of their regular payment in May.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also unveiled an additional $ 175 million Vancouver biotechnology company AbCellera, a company he says has identified antibodies for use in potential drugs to treat the new coronavirus. The funding is expected to help the company conduct human trials, which Trudeau says could start as early as July.

“Until we have effective treatments, or better yet a vaccine, we will always need a reliable supply of everything from masks to respirators,” he said.

Health Canada Restricts Use of COVID-19 Rapid Test

Canada’s plans to boost its stock of medical and protective equipment come at a time when the country was hit hard by its rapid testing capabilities.

Health Canada says it is restricting the use of a rapid COVID-19 test created by an Ottawa company after the National Microbiology Laboratory found problems with the test that made it unreliable.

“In light of clinical results, Health Canada has placed conditions on the company’s authorization to restrict the use of the product to research only until adequate evidence of clinical performance can be provided,” said the federal agency in a press release sent by email.

Spartan Bioscience said Sunday that concerns relate to the proprietary swab used in the test – which had promised to deliver results in as little as 30 minutes – but that the agency had not raised concerns about the accuracy of the reagents test and portable analysis device.

The company said it would remember the 5,500 tests shipped nationwide and work on additional clinical studies to assess the sampling method and the swab.

The rapid test device for COVID-19 created by Spartan Bioscience of Ottawa is now for research purposes only, Health Canada told the company on Friday. (Provided by Spartan Bioscience)

“Although the … device worked very well in the laboratory – and according to the specifications provided by the manufacturer – it was in a real situation, in a clinical setting, where it did not work well,” said the general public in Canada. Health worker Dr. Theresa Tam said Sunday.

Tam said she did not expect the setback to affect the country’s target of 60,000 tests per day, or the first attempts to reopen the provinces, as the tests were not yet used.

“There is no exact exact path down this slope and into the new realities of life with COVID-19,” said Tam.

She added that provinces will need to closely monitor the decline in the number of positive cases and be ready to reassess their plans if these numbers start to rise.

Ontario To Authorize A Number Of Seasonal Businesses And Critical Construction Projects resume on monday, while Quebec – the province hardest hit by the pandemic – will reopen more retail stores.

Other provinces relax restrictions more widely: Manitoba Strategy includes opening dental clinics for urgent procedures and allowing restaurants to open their patios to half their normal capacity.

WATCH | Minister of Purchasing on the Supply Board and Test Restrictions:

Health Canada places restrictions on a Canadian-made COVID-19 rapid test kit, which prohibits its use by the public. Minister of Public Services and Procurement, Anita Anand, said this kind of challenge “is part of the process of building new technologies.” 5:09

Equipment “important to have even more”: Trudeau

It is the relaxation of these restrictions, said Trudeau, which makes it essential that Canada improve its procurement processes.

“We recognize that as the economy begins to open up in different places and in different ways, it’s going to be important to have more [personal protective equipment] Said Trudeau. That’s why we have to do everything we can to make sure we get the right supply. ”

Anand was able to provide additional updates on Canada’s procurement efforts on Sunday.

“Our first shipment of visors began arriving this week, with more than 740,000 receipts to date, half of which have been produced here in Canada,” said the minister.

It also announced a new contract that would see an additional 15.5 million face shields added to Canada’s stock, an agreement with Montreal-based Medicom for 20 million N95 respirators and 80 million surgical masks over the next 10 years, and an agreement with another Quebec company for 11 million medical gowns.

Upcoming online platforms for mental health and primary care

The federal government is also taking steps to bring mental health and primary care services online to address concerns about mental and physical well-being during the COVID-19 crisis.

Announcing the initiative, Trudeau said a new virtual mental health platform will provide stress management strategies, with specific assistance for people in marginalized communities.

The money will also be used to provide virtual primary care to patients who do not need to go to a doctor’s office.

“By helping doctors organize their appointments online, you can stay safe at home while receiving care, and our hospitals can stay focused on those who need it most,” said Trudeau. “If we can use apps to order dinner and video shopping to stay in touch with family, we can use new technology to stay healthy. “

Last month, Minister of Health Patty Hajdu unveiled a online portal to connect Canadians of all ages to support mental health workers and professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The launch came as some experts warned of an “echo pandemic” – a secondary public health crisis that revolves around mental illness and addiction due to the widespread financial, social and health repercussions of the new coronavirus .

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