Quick, portable COVID-19 test kits approved for use, Ottawa company says

An Ottawa company says Health Canada has approved its new technology that can expand the country’s COVID-19 test capacity.

Spartan Bioscience was one of the companies that received federal funds announced in mid-March to help in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

It switched from making portable DNA test kits to working on a similar hand-held, cube-shaped device that could do quick tests for the novel coronavirus outside laboratories in settings such as airports, border crossings and remote communities.

Last month, company CEO Paul Lem said the tests would involve two mouth swabs plugged into the coffee cup-sized cube, which would light up if the germs are detected.

The company announced Monday it had federal approval to start shipping its kits.

“There is an urgent, unmet need for rapid COVID-19 testing, and as a proudly Canadian company, we are excited that our technology will be an important part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada,” it said in a news release.

Health officials across Canada have been doing targeted — rather than widespread testing — for COVID-19 because of a general shortage of testing materials and people trained to do them.

Health Canada has not yet confirmed the approval on its website.


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