Why has B.C. used less than 1% of its rapid COVID test supply? Green Party leader asks

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan HaywardGreen party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
An Abbott Laboratories Panbio COVID- 19 Rapid Test device is displayed at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 235 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanAn Abbott Laboratories Panbio COVID- 19 Rapid Test device is displayed at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 235 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Despite the nearly three million rapid tests that the federal government has sent to B.C., all but 13 per cent of them are still sitting in provincial storage.

That’s according to the federal government, who said it has sent 2.8 million rapid tests to B.C., of which just 383,732 have been deployed – delivered to their point-of-use – and less than 10 per cent of those have been used. Just 24,478, or six per cent, of the tests deployed have been used – equating to less than one per cent actually being administered.

B.C. has repeatedly said it will only use rapid tests if they see a benefit, versus creating more work. At the start of March, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said rapid tests had been used in provincial prisons, workplace outbreaks and in B.C. schools but produced just two positive results.

“If our community transmission rates are low, screening with these less sensitive tests is not very effective. It doesn’t help us because the yield is so low and they have a very much higher false-negative rate. In those areas where we have an outbreak or where community transmission rates are higher, that’s when they might have more utility and those are the areas that we are looking at more closely,” Henry said in early March.

However, BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau challenged the government’s use of rapid point-of-care tests. Furstenau compared B.C.’s strategy to that of Nova Scotia, which has in recent days experienced its own surge in COVID cases.

“Rapid tests are available to anyone in Nova Scotia over the age of 16, whether they are exhibiting symptoms or not,” she said during Monday’s Question Period in the legislature. According to federal data, Nova Scotia has used 28,831 rapid tests.

“The positivity rate in Nova Scotia right now is 0.6 per cent. The positivity rate in B.C. is 9.3 per cent. It appears from the actions that Nova Scotia is taking that it remains committed to keeping COVID-19 cases as close to zero as possible. What is our goal in B.C.?”

In response, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the government was focused on PCR, lab-based, testing.

“Our goal is, on the decisions such as rapid testing, that we are focusing, right now, on the 2.5 million PCR tests we have done in British Columbia. Our goal is to support public health experts like Dr. Henry as they do their job, and to not give them instructions that would divert resources from where they’re most needed,” Dix said.

“I don’t think we want to be in a jurisdiction where politicians overturn that order, instruct and tell public health experts in issues such as transmission how and when they should use tests. The member knows that we laid out our strategy for rapid testing.”

There have been 127,048 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 1,571 deaths, including a toddler and an infant.

READ MORE: B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Just Posted

Christina Lake Fire Department’s Chief Joe Geary eyes the camera from behind the wheel of the department’s 40-year-old bush truck. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Christina Lake FD needs new equipment, upgrades, prompting loan by RDKB

It’s not whether the department needs the equipment, it’s how voters will pay for it, says Regional District

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

Selkirk College has begun its search in earnest for a leader to replace president Angus Graeme who is set to retire from his position in May 2022. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College seeks community input for president search

Current president Angus Graeme retires next year

A report shows nine West Kootenay communities are have more low-income persons than the provincial average. File photo
Study casts new light on poverty in the West Kootenay

Nine communities in region have more low-income residents than provincial average

A tent housing a mobile vaccination clinic. (Interior Health/Contributed)
Over 5K jabbed at Interior Health mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinics

The clinics have made stops in more than 40 communities since launching last week

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

A North Vancouver man was arrested Friday and three police officers were injured after a 10-person broke out at English Bay on June 19, 2021. (Youtube/Screen grab)
Man arrested, 3 police injured during 10-person brawl at Vancouver beach

The arrest was captured on video by bystanders, many of whom heckled the officers as they struggled with the handcuffed man

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Most Read