U.S. FDA approves 2 at-home rapid COVID-19 tests. When will Canada catch up?

Pressure is mounting for the Canadian government to authorize COVID-19 rapid tests to be used at home as more have been approved for use in the United States.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA) authorized two more over-the-counter COVID-19 tests that can be used at home to get rapid results.

The FDA said Abbott’s BinaxNow and Quidel’s QuickVue tests can now be sold in the country without a prescription.

The tests allow users to collect a sample at home, with a nasal swab that is inserted into a test strip. The results are usually ready within 10 to 20 minutes.

Dr. Michael Mina of Harvard told The Associated Press that the expanded testing options would be critical as new virus variants spread and researchers study how long protection from vaccines lasts.

“Vaccines are incredibly important but they are not the end-all, be-all to this pandemic,” he told the outlet. “We need other tools in our arsenal and the widespread availability and rapid scale-up of tests for people to use in the privacy of their homes is going to be an extraordinary gain.”

How does Canada measure up?

To date, Health Canada has only authorized the sale and use of COVID-19 tests administered by health professionals or trained operators.

In an email to Global News on Saturday, a spokesperson for Health Canada said the agency “is aware of the approval of the COVID-19 tests” in the United States.

“It is important to recognize that Canada’s context is different from the U.S.,” the email read.

The agency did not expand on how exactly the context differs.

To date, 63 tests to identify the novel coronavirus have been approved by the Canadian agency. Of those, 15 point-of-care or ‘rapid tests’ devices have been authorized for use.

Those tests, however, still require a health professional or trained personnel to administer.

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