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Recall issued for rapid coronavirus test with $9.5M Alberta Health Services contract

Click to play video: 'Is the ‘Spartan Cube’ the future of COVID-19 testing?' Is the ‘Spartan Cube’ the future of COVID-19 testing?
WATCH ABOVE: (April 20) Spartan Bioscience CEO Paul Lem explains how his company’s device, the ‘Spartan Cube,’ could be the future of COVID-19 testing in Canada – Apr 20, 2020

The company behind a rapid coronavirus test that was expected to be massively rolled out in rural Alberta has voluntarily recalled its product.

Alberta Health Services had announced a partnership worth $9.5 million with Spartan Bioscience in late March.

The Ottawa-based Spartan said Sunday it is recalling its COVID-19 product and performing additional studies after Health Canada expressed some concerns.

READ MORE: Rapid coronavirus test voluntarily recalled over Health Canada concerns

AHS said that so far, it had only received a “small number” of the devices and had been testing the product before its planned rollout.

“AHS and [Alberta Precision Laboratories] have suspended their evaluation of the Spartan Bioscience rapid testing devices following concerns about the technology’s efficacy,” Kerry Williamson from AHS said in a statement Sunday.
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“We have not received the larger shipment that would be deployed across the province.”

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Williamson said that the contract with Spartan has not been cancelled, but if the technology is not validated for clinical use, AHS would be reimbursed.

READ MORE: AHS partners with biotechnology company to create rapid testing for COVID-19

AHS will also be submitting its preliminary evaluation results to Health Canada, Williamson said.

The initial deal with Spartan called for AHS to receive handheld devices along with 100,000 testing kits to be distributed to facilities outside of Calgary and Edmonton.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Health Canada approves rapid COVID-19 testing device' Coronavirus: Health Canada approves rapid COVID-19 testing device
Coronavirus: Health Canada approves rapid COVID-19 testing device – Apr 13, 2020

Spartan said Health Canada was concerned about the “efficacy of the proprietary swab” for the testing product. The company said Health Canada had no concerns about the accuracy and analytical performance of the product.

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It was initially approved for use in Canada on April 13.

READ MORE: Finding value in daily COVID-19 numbers despite provincial testing differences

Williamson said Sunday that Alberta’s testing capability “remains strong” and that the current demand for COVID-19 testing will still be met.

As of Saturday, AHS had conducted 157,517 COVID-19 tests in the province.

–With files from The Canadian Press

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