COVID-19 rapid antigen testing has been a long time reaching the mainstream levels in Canada that other countries have enjoyed for some time now. Beginning today, Shoppers Drug Mart Inc is making quick and convenient COVID-19 screening accessible to asymptomatic customers in Alberta and Ontario. Rapid antigen tests are available in all Shoppers Drug Mart and Loblaw pharmacies in the two provinces, providing results typically within 15-20 minutes. Tests are priced at $40 each.
Ontario should immediately expand its use of rapid COVID-19 tests if it hopes to slow the pandemic’s worsening third wave, say a variety of infectious disease and testing experts.
While rapid testing remains sorely underused in most of Canada, one province has been innovating with rapid tests from the very beginning — and is now reaping the benefit.
During the third wave that hit Nova Scotia over the past month, the province’s community rapid testing centres have correctly sniffed out at least 285 COVID-19 cases in asymptomatic people, or about 10 per cent of all confirmed cases in this time period, according to the Nova Scotia Health Authority.
“This is the early detection system,” Barrett said. Rapid testing tends to catch people early on in their infection when they’re full of virus, meaning positive cases are found and put into isolation fast — likely days before they would have been found with a PCR test, if they were found at all.