The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has released their recommendations for the use of rapid antigen tests in the province.
The Science Table said that rapid antigen tests can be a useful tool to reduce transmission of COVID-19 when used in appropriate settings. They recommend that rapid tests be deployed on a voluntary basis in moderate-risk settings like schools and workplaces.
The Science Table said that the rapid tests should be used among unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals. They suggest that the rapid tests be deployed in elementary schools when COVID-19 cases in a community hit 35 per 100,000 per week. Most elementary school students are not yet vaccinated or only partially vaccinated as the paediatric COVID-19 vaccine was recently approved.
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Also in this situation, it could be beneficial to deploy rapid tests in workplaces and congregate setting where there is a moderate-risk of transmission, according to the report.
If COVID-19 cases in a community reach 175 cases per 100,000 per week, the Science Table suggests that rapid tests are deployed in more areas and more frequently. At this rate of transmission, they say that voluntary testing should be used in unvaccinated and partially vaccinated individuals two to three times per week. They add that it could be beneficial to also open voluntary rapid testing to fully vaccinated individuals at this rate of transmission.
The Science Table said that the viral load in the Delta variant peaks earlier than other variants, making it more difficult to control. However, this does make improve the performance of rapid testing.
They advise that a rapid antigen test result must be confirmed with a PCR test. If a rapid test comes back positive, individuals should isolate and get a PCR test. It is not yet known if rapid tests will detect the Omicron variant, the Science Table said.