Health Canada has now approved a new rapid testing system for Coronavirus that can produce results in under an hour, which is expected to take the pressure off of public health labs and prevent testing kit shortages.
Spartan Bioscience, a company in Ottawa, received approval on the weekend and will be ready to start shipping tests for the federal and provincial governments as early as Monday, said Paul Lem, the company’s chief executive officer.
Up until now, all COVID-19 tests have been processed through large polymerase chain reaction machines. But this new test is processed through a handheld DNA analyzer, which allows hospitals and other institutions to test patients and receive results without having to send samples away to a provincial lab.
Each handheld DNA analyzer can process about 10 to 15 tests a day, Dr. Lem said.
Spartan Bioscience also produces the swabs used to collect samples from patients. Global swab shortages have been one of the many hurdles provinces have faced in mass testing across the country.
Governments from around the world are also asking Spartan Bioscience to supply them with tests. “We’re bombarded,” Dr. Lem said.
But he said he is prioritizing contracts with Canadian governments and that his company won’t think about working with others until it can scale up the operations to meet the demands in this country first.
“We’re deliberately not taking any orders outside of Canada even though we’re bombarded with orders,” Dr. Lem said.