Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }
Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you make the most of staying home.
Visit the hub

Health Canada has approved a new rapid test for COVID-19 that can produce results in under an hour, which is expected to alleviate the pressure on public health laboratories and help circumvent testing kit shortages.

Ottawa-based Spartan Bioscience received approval on the weekend and will be ready to start shipping tests for the federal and provincial governments as early as Monday, said Paul Lem, the company’s chief executive officer.

How many coronavirus cases are there in Canada, by province, and worldwide? The latest maps and charts

Canada so far avoids surge of COVID-19 patients that paralyzed hospitals in Italy, New York

The company has contracts to produce rapid COVID-19 tests for the federal government, as well as Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. Other provinces are also working on arrangements with the company, but they haven’t been announced yet, Dr. Lem said.

Story continues below advertisement

Until now, all COVID-19 tests have been processed through large polymerase chain reaction machines. But Spartan’s test is processed through a handheld DNA analyzer, which allows hospitals and other institutions to test patients and receive results without having to send samples away to a provincial lab.

This will be particularly important for rural and remote areas, as well as Indigenous communities, which don’t have access to large PCR machines. They’ll be able to get results much faster and expedite their response to new COVID-19 cases, Dr. Lem said.

“If you live outside a major city like Toronto or Montreal ... this is what you’re going to have to use,” he said.

Each handheld DNA analyzer can process about 10 to 15 tests a day, Dr. Lem said.

Jim Woodgett, director of research at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, said this new point-of-care test could be an important help to communities outside of urban areas.

“There’s going to be much greater penetration into the more rural areas,” Dr. Woodgett said.

He said the speed of test results is also important, as most COVID-19 cases are now the result of community spread and it’s important to ensure as many people with infections are being quickly identified and told to isolate.

Story continues below advertisement

The company will start shipping thousands of tests this week. In about a month, Dr. Lem said he expects they will be able to ship 10,000 tests a week. In three to four months, they expect to move 100,000 to 200,000 each week.

Another advantage to the Spartan test is the company produces the swabs that need to be used to collect samples from patients. Global swab shortages have been one of the many hurdles provinces have faced in scaling up testing across the country.

Ontario, which has had the lowest testing rates in the country for weeks, has come under increasing scrutiny. Last week, Premier Doug Ford said the testing rates, which were as low as around 2,500 last week, are “unacceptable” and vowed to ramp up the volume in the coming days and weeks.

Dr. Lem said Spartan Bioscience has been inundated with requests for tests in recent days. Private companies across Canada have reached out to secure tests. They want access to the tests so they can potentially screen employees for COVID-19 and allow non-infected individuals to return to work. Surgeons from Canadian hospitals have also reached out, Dr. Lem said. Many of them have had surgeries cancelled for weeks and they are hoping the test can help them get back to work.

Governments from around the world are also asking Spartan Bioscience to supply them with tests. “We’re bombarded,” Dr. Lem said.

But he said he is prioritizing contracts with Canadian governments and that his company won’t think about working with others until it can scale up the operations to meet the demands in this country first.

Story continues below advertisement

“We’re deliberately not taking any orders outside of Canada even though we’re bombarded with orders,” Dr. Lem said.

Sign up for the Coronavirus Update newsletter to read the day’s essential coronavirus news, features and explainers written by Globe.

In the interests of public health and safety, our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access. However, The Globe depends on subscription revenue to support our journalism. If you are able, please subscribe to globeandmail.com. If you are already a subscriber, thank you for your support.

Your subscription helps The Globe and Mail provide readers with critical news at a critical time. Thank you for your continued support. We also hope you will share important coronavirus news articles with your friends and family. In the interest of public health and safety, all our coronavirus news articles are free for anyone to access.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies