WINNIPEG - Health Canada has approved another rapid test for COVID-19. The Panbio COVID-19 antigen test from American diagnostics company Abbott is the first antigen test approved for use in Canada. Health Canada approved a molecular rapid test last Wednesday, called ID NOW, also developed by Abbott, a company known more for nutrition brands like Similac, Ensure, and Glucerna.
Both tests use material gathered with a throat or nasal swab, and while both can produce results in 15 minutes, the newly-approved test uses a different method to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Abbott says the Panbio test should be accurate 93-99 per cent of the time.
While faster, rapid tests are still not considered as accurate as the standard, most common test. Called “polymerase chain reaction,” that method is known for identifying positive cases nearly 100 per cent of the time when used correctly. But public health experts have urged regulators to allow for more testing options as the provinces are burdened by hours of waiting at testing site lineups and thousands of samples waiting at laboratories for analysis.