B.C. ‘preparing’ to distribute COVID-19 rapid tests to the public

B.C. 'preparing' to distribute COVID-19 rapid tests to the public
B.C.'s top doctor, Dr. Bonnie Henry. Rapid COVID-19 tests may finally be available to British Columbians on a wider scale. (File)

Rapid COVID-19 tests may finally be available to British Columbians on a wider scale.

The B.C. government announced Friday in its COVID-19 update release to the media that officials are preparing to distribute rapid coronavirus tests to the broader public.

Officials say they will be providing details on their distribution plan during next week’s briefing on Tuesday, but note that seniors will be first in line.

B.C. health officials have been under intense pressure for months to make rapid tests more widely available. A petition was launched by Dr. Dalia Hasan, an Ontario-based physician, late last year demanding B.C. provide them to residents free of charge. Hasan, in a December interview with CHEK News, said public health officials in B.C. have “blood on their hands” and are putting profits ahead of people.

RELATED: Doctors skeptical of B.C.’s rapid test strategy, question Henry’s rationale

Unlike just about everywhere else in Canada, rapid tests have not been made widely available to the public, many of whom have been forced to order kits online or turn to online buy and sell groups to obtain them at high prices.

B.C. health officials have at various times over the past few months, claimed the reason for this is that they are either are not suitable for at-home use, that the right product is not available, that they are being allocated for certain settings such as long-term care, or that they don’t prevent transmission.

RELATED: Physician urges B.C. to provide free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests

As Omicron was beginning to dominate in mid-December, health officials laid out a new rapid test strategy that excluded their availability to the broader public, saying they simply didn’t have enough on hand, despite having at least 3 million tests stockpiled somewhere.

While British Columbia has largely limited rapid tests to certain sectors of the population, such as those in long-term care and slowly begun making them more available, businesses have long been able to access them through Safe Screen B.C., a fee-based program. Data obtained by CHEK News in early January showed that nearly 500,000 rapid tests had been distributed to businesses for an amount that the Ministry of Health refused to disclose.

Based on the latest data available on Health Canada’s website, B.C. has received 27,347,506 rapid tests as of Feb. 11.

RELATED: More than 500,000 rapid tests have been distributed to businesses in B.C., data shows

RELATED: B.C.’s new rapid test strategy doesn’t include plans to make them widely available to the public




Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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