No at-home coronavirus tests are "good enough" for use: BC health officials

Apr 7 2020, 1:40 pm

There is currently no at-home testing technology for the coronavirus that is “good enough” to be used by the public, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Henry made the assertion at a recent press conference, noting that as far as she’s aware, there are “no at-home testing kits that have been validated yet,” and “there’s none right now that are good enough to be used in our community.”

While no at-home devices have been approved by Health Canada, some US-based companies touting these products have put a halt on their availability to the public after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced these kits are “unauthorized” and “fraudulent.”

“Currently, the only way to be tested for COVID-19 is to talk to your healthcare provider,” said the federal agency. “The FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19. You will risk unknowingly spreading COVID-19 or not getting treated appropriately if you use an unauthorized test.”

Henry said the problem with at-home testing kits is their accuracy, as they tend to provide “false positive and false negative” results.

Currently, the only testing methods approved by Health Canada are lab-based tests meant for use by healthcare providers and one “point of care” test, which means the technology can be used in doctor’s offices.

“Public health laboratories across Canada and around the world are using tests that detect the presence of the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Health Canada in a statement to Daily Hive.

“These tests are being prioritized for review by Health Canada to increase the number of tests available in Canada to detect active infections of COVID-19.”

Health Canada continued, “Serological tests — like the take-home tests being evaluated in the United Kingdom — have limitations” because they do not detect the virus itself.

Instead, the tests “detect the antibodies produced in response to an infection.”

“These tests are also being accepted for review,” the agency added. “However, the World Health Organization does not currently recommend serological tests for clinical diagnosis and Health Canada is following this advice.”