Health Canada changes course on home testing for COVID-19

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Health Canada is ready to consider approving home COVID-19 tests to screen for the virus, a spokesperson for the health minister told Reuters, in a victory for public health experts and doctors who did argue that frequent and inexpensive testing could push back the pandemic.The Department of Health had previously said it was concerned that people could abuse home tests or misinterpret the results.

“In response to the evolving pandemic, Health Canada is now reviewing requests for home testing devices for screening purposes,” said Cole Davidson, spokesperson for the Minister of Health in a statement.

In June of this year, Health Canada had indicated that it would not consider requests for home test kits because at that time, “the Department’s position was related to the use of home tests at home. diagnostic purposes, ”the statement said.

Screening tests are meant to monitor large groups of apparently healthy people for the disease, while diagnostic tests study symptoms.

The change could allow self-collection, where samples are sent to a lab for processing, and spur the development of new tests to detect the virus at home.

Home tests may be more likely to miss positive cases than lab tests. Regulators generally want these errors to be extremely rare, because patients who don’t realize they are contagious could spread the virus.

But advocates argue that quick and cheap tests could more than compensate for reduced sensitivity if they can be used to test many people on a daily or weekly basis, and that people sick enough to be contagious are highly unlikely to be. absent.

Rapid COVID-19 tests similar to home pregnancy tests exist as prototypes in research labs, but until last week none were approved or manufactured on a large scale.

Last week, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a rapid, $ 5 credit card-sized COVID-19 test, carried out by Abbott Laboratories. The test cannot be done on its own, but it can be administered by a wide variety of healthcare professionals and technicians.

Abbott has not requested to sell the device in Canada, according to public app data.

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