Why has B.C. used less than 1% of its rapid COVID test supply? Green Party leader asks

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan HaywardGreen party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
An Abbott Laboratories Panbio COVID- 19 Rapid Test device is displayed at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 235 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanAn Abbott Laboratories Panbio COVID- 19 Rapid Test device is displayed at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in Halifax on Wednesday, Nov. 235 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Despite the nearly three million rapid tests that the federal government has sent to B.C., all but 13 per cent of them are still sitting in provincial storage.

That’s according to the federal government, who said it has sent 2.8 million rapid tests to B.C., of which just 383,732 have been deployed – delivered to their point-of-use – and less than 10 per cent of those have been used. Just 24,478, or six per cent, of the tests deployed have been used – equating to less than one per cent actually being administered.

B.C. has repeatedly said it will only use rapid tests if they see a benefit, versus creating more work. At the start of March, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said rapid tests had been used in provincial prisons, workplace outbreaks and in B.C. schools but produced just two positive results.

“If our community transmission rates are low, screening with these less sensitive tests is not very effective. It doesn’t help us because the yield is so low and they have a very much higher false-negative rate. In those areas where we have an outbreak or where community transmission rates are higher, that’s when they might have more utility and those are the areas that we are looking at more closely,” Henry said in early March.

However, BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau challenged the government’s use of rapid point-of-care tests. Furstenau compared B.C.’s strategy to that of Nova Scotia, which has in recent days experienced its own surge in COVID cases.

“Rapid tests are available to anyone in Nova Scotia over the age of 16, whether they are exhibiting symptoms or not,” she said during Monday’s Question Period in the legislature. According to federal data, Nova Scotia has used 28,831 rapid tests.

“The positivity rate in Nova Scotia right now is 0.6 per cent. The positivity rate in B.C. is 9.3 per cent. It appears from the actions that Nova Scotia is taking that it remains committed to keeping COVID-19 cases as close to zero as possible. What is our goal in B.C.?”

In response, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the government was focused on PCR, lab-based, testing.

“Our goal is, on the decisions such as rapid testing, that we are focusing, right now, on the 2.5 million PCR tests we have done in British Columbia. Our goal is to support public health experts like Dr. Henry as they do their job, and to not give them instructions that would divert resources from where they’re most needed,” Dix said.

“I don’t think we want to be in a jurisdiction where politicians overturn that order, instruct and tell public health experts in issues such as transmission how and when they should use tests. The member knows that we laid out our strategy for rapid testing.”

There have been 127,048 cases of COVID-19 in B.C. and 1,571 deaths, including a toddler and an infant.

READ MORE: B.C.’s rapid COVID-19 tests have produced only two positive results


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

John Pavelich’s 83rd birthday had an added surprise; members of Enderby City Council came by his residence to present him with a Lifetime Civic Merit award Saturday, May 8, 2021. (Contributed)
Enderby resident unwraps Lifetime Civic Merit award on 83rd birthday

John ‘JP’ Pavelich has been a pillar of volunteerism in Enderby since 1967

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

Five properties have been added to the Lake Country fire protection zone, after council moved to expand the local service area Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Google Maps)
Lake Country expands fire protection zone, covering 5 exposed properties

The properties petitioned to join the local service area after being left out ‘for reasons unknown’

The Vernon Vipers defeated the Salmon Arm Silverbacks 3-1 to secure the top spot in the BC Hockey League Vernon pod Friday, May 7, 2021. (Lisa Mazurek Photography)
VIDEO: Vipers beat Salmon Arm, clinch top spot in BCHL Vernon pod

Goaltender James Porter Jr. was a wall for the Vipers, who outscored the Silverbacks 3-1 Friday

VSAR’s Air Rescue One unit assisted in a rescue in West Kelowna May 3, 2021. (VSAR screenshot)
VIDEO: VSAR’s Air Rescue One team assists in West Kelowna Rescue

The Vernon Search and Rescue helicopter team pulled off a successful rescue Monday

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Peachland resident and cleanup volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas holds up a discarded TV riddled with bullet holes. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
PHOTOS: Peachland residents clean up community watershed

More than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with the cleanup

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Canada’s chief public health officer is reminding Canadians even those who are fully vaccinated are not immune from transmitting the COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns full vaccination does not equal full protection from COVID-19

Post-inoculation, Theresa Tam says the risk of asymptomatic infection and transmission is far lower but not obsolete

Most Read