The Saskatchewan Health Authority has initiated the roll out of SARS-CoV-2 Point of Care testing. The first phase of the roll out is to pilot these testing options in selected locations to test the new processes in a controlled environment.
Nine identified long term care homes will pilot the Abbott Panbio, an antigen test, and selected acute care and mobile testing locations will pilot the Abbott ID NOW, which is a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test.
Both point of care testing options can provide results in approximately 15 minutes and require the collection of a Nasopharyngeal swab.
It is important to note that both the point of care antigen test and the point of care PCR test are considered less sensitive than a PCR test done in the lab. Using less sensitive tests can carry some risks but they can be mitigated by using them in defined situations combined with careful interpretation of results and follow-up with confirmatory testing when indicated.
That is why these POCT platforms will undergo a pilot as the first phase of deployment.
While there is a high demand for quicker testing options, we have to ensure that these are feasible options for the SHA and that the test results are consistently reliable and accurate before we share them with sites beyond those selected for this pilot.
During the pilot all tests, regardless of the results, will be run side by side with a gold standard PCR testing platform for parallel test analysis. The pilot will be conducted for two weeks at which point the feasibility and utilization of the testing will be determined for more widespread use throughout the SHA with clearer feasibility use and interpretation of results.