The news comes one day after the federal government announced it had signed a deal securing up to 7.9 million Abbott ID Now COVID-19 rapid tests once they were approved by Canadian health officials.
When the tests will be in the hands of health professionals — and how they will be distributed — is not yet known.
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said on Tuesday the swab-based tests were “point of care” tests that can then be run outside of major laboratories to provide faster results at clinics or hospitals.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford welcomed the news Tuesday of the procurement efforts by federal officials, calling the deal “a game changer.”
“There’s no one that’s been jumping up and down screaming for the rapid tests more than I have,” Ford said during a press conference Tuesday.
Ontario coronavirus cases have spiked in recent weeks, a worrisome trend also seen in Quebec and western provinces.
The federal government has come under increasing pressure to focus on rapid testing as the country braces for a second wave.
Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner grilled Liberals on rapid testing delays on Tuesday.
“People around the world have access to at-home testing or rapid testing and nobody in Canada does,” she said.
Rempel Garner blamed the prime minister directly, adding: “If he’s asking Canadians to do their part, when is he going to do his job?”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said last week political intervention to pressure the government into rushing rapid tests could have “dangerous consequences,” adding Canada would be “ready to pounce” once the tests had earned approval.
Meanwhile, health officials said they were in the process of reviewing antigen tests for the country.
“We have a number of them under review at the moment — it is our priority,” Supriya Sharma, senior medical advisor for Health Canada, said at a media briefing Tuesday.
“For some of them we are, I think, very close to having a final decision.”
The test has already been green-lit in the United States, earning approval from the country’s Food and Drug Administration under its Emergency Use Authorization on Friday.
Abbott began distributing the test in the U.S. this week and said in a statement Friday it would begin ramping up manufacturing to 50,000 tests per day.
This is the fourth rapid test approved by Health Canada. Earlier Tuesday, the federal government also approved the Hyris bCUBE-based test kit, which can provide results in 90 minutes.
“It can provide human COVID-19 test results at the same level as a hospital laboratory, without the requirement for a lab, also reducing the time needed for diagnosis,” Hyris said in a release.
— With files from Global News’ Tania Kohut
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