Medcan’s health-care clinic plans to provide a COVID-19 antibody test to customers next month, at cost, says the company.
Toronto private clinic, which charges an annual fee for services outside of health insurance and rationalization of care offered, go Abbott offer Antibody lab test IgG, spokeswoman for Bronwen Evans said in an email. It is one of five serological tests approved by Health Canada.
Unlike rod tests to determine if someone has an active infection, these blood tests show that people have developed antibodies that suggest they have already had COVID-19 and could be protected from getting it again. Testing is the key to the controversial promise of passport immunity, which could help society open up in the absence of a vaccine or cure for the disease that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.
They are already widely used in many countries, including the United States, where they are available online, by people curious to know if they had it without any symptoms, or if this flu in February, could have been the new coronavirus .
But experts have called for caution. There are concerns with precision and false positives. And scientists believe, but have not yet proven with solid evidence, that if you have the antibodies that you are immune to the disease again. They don’t know how long the immunity lasted.
According to the slides from a town hall company, shared with the Star by an employee, Medcan will offer the test between $ 200 and $ 400 for clients, depending on their state of health-care offer. They will also have the offer free of charge to one of their own employees who are interested.
Evans said it will be completely optional and private, and this test has an “excellent” accuracy rate.
“The results will not be used by Medcan in any way,” said Evans. “Several of our employees have requested access to the COVID-19 IgG test.”
The blood sample is taken from a vein and the test is run immediately afterwards, she added. The US trial company was approved by Health Canada in mid-May, and another was approved earlier this month.
“Abbott is to work with all provincial testing laboratory services and relevant federal agencies across the country to implement screening as soon as possible,” spokeswoman Kelly Wighton said in an email. A handful of the company’s antibody tests are already approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and the company plans to distribute $ 30 million globally by the end of July.
Evans added that clients who take the test will have the results reviewed by a healthcare practitioner and have an opportunity to ask questions. They will also have patient education materials that will discuss the accuracy of the test and “the fact that the data is not collected to determine if IgG antibodies provide protective immunity against COVID-19.”
The plan for those who do not have access to a premium health care service in Ontario is not yet clear. Will they be offered by family doctors? Or covered by health insurance?
The province’s expert panel testing strategy is currently under discussion serological and “develop a framework and criteria to integrate and harmonize serology into the larger provincial testing strategy,” said an Ontario Public Health spokesperson in an email.
The framework is expected to be released in the coming weeks, the spokesperson added. In the meantime, Health Canada approved tests are currently allowed only for research, Ontario health ministry spokesperson said. Hayley Chazan in an email.
Medcan will wait for the border province, said spokeswoman Evans.
“There are many examples of health services that are not covered by health insurance that can be paid for privately, such as mental health, consultation with a psychologist, medication and many dental services,” said she adds.
“We appreciate the fact that governments need to determine the most effective way to ration health care spending. We hope that the general public can have access to this test as covered. ”
Dr. Prabhat Jha, Director of Global Health Research at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, is leading a cross-country study to try to answer some of the key questions about antibodies. – They say we are protected against reinfection of COVID-19? Is there immunity to fade over time, like it does for colds?
His team paired up with Angus Reid polling firm to get a “country snapshot” with an oversampling of the elderly, as they are the hardest hit by the virus. They plan to send 10,000 blood from the kits. Participants will be able to prick their fingers and send the results, and they will be checked again in a few months.
The researchers informed him about their results on a risk scale most likely to have had COVID-19, somewhat likely, unlikely to.
But they are not the volunteers who accept that it could bias the results towards those who think they have already had it, even if they were “inundated” with calls and emails from those who are impatient to test it.
I urge caution, and recommend people are awaiting public health recommendations, and more evidence from studies like his, before trying to get an antibody test.
“It is not allowed to go out and kiss people on the street,” he said of positive test results. “I’m not against consumer choices, but they need to be informed by science.”
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National COVID-19 Task Force Immunity will also be launching a study host over the next two years, using Health Canada approved serological testing.
The tests are very helpful in understanding the “patterns of infection” in groups, or the big parameters such as hospitals or meat packing factories where there have been outbreaks, said Dr. Tim Evans, director of the School of Population and World Health at McGill University, which heads the secretariat of the task force.
But he also does not recommend them for individuals or worker testing companies.
“At the moment we don’t think science is mature enough to activate clinicians or employers to manage employees on an individual basis,” said Evans.
“Even if it doesn’t provide protection, we don’t know how long the protection lasts. The epidemic is far too young for us in Canada, in the news, and around the world. ”
Andrew Corkum, president of business operations at Ortho Clinical Diagnostics Canada, one of the companies behind one of Health Canada’s approved serological tests, believes they could be helpful in “helping identify immunity for people to go back to work. ” They haven’t had the companies to reach out yet, but Roche Diagnostics, which also has an approved test, spokeswoman Marie-Elaine Guay said.
“That being said, the supplier diagnosis our goal is to provide a reliable test to identify the person has been exposed to the virus and has developed antibodies,” she added in an email. “Any clinical interpretation should be aligned with the provincial referral health authority.”
The tests are already used by some employers in the United States, such as Jordan Rose, founder and president of the Rose of the Scottsdale Law Group, Ariz., Who decided the company will offer the test for free in the spring. The state now has a new COVID-19 hot spot.
“Our feeling was, we have to let everyone on our team assess their own level of risk,” she said. They wanted to “provide a certain level of confidence so that they can make their own decisions about how they decide to interact.”
Rose estimates more than 30 of its 50 staff have taken the test. But they had to offer two, because the first was dropped during the accuracy of the concerns.
The results are private, although she said that some lawyers are already using them to make decisions about meeting with clients.
Near the house, Jai says he knows a lot of people are curious, but they have to keep their limits in mind.
“If you knew the result, it wouldn’t change your behavior today anyway,” he said.
“I think with science and more testing, and more antibody testing coming, we’re going to take the step where you can use something like passport immunity, but we’re not there again. We are quite a few months away from getting the science right. ”