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

Grade 12 LSS student Catherine Sampson, Grade 8 LSS student Cianna Vincent, and LSS Aboriginal Education teacher Brenda Kohlruss led the LSS ceremony honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people. (Cole Schisler photo)
Ladysmith Secondary ceremony honours missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls

A small ceremony was held in the LSS foyer on the National Day of Awareness for MMIWG

Peter and Wayne Richmond and 49th Parallel Grocery won the award for Business Achievement 20+ Employees at the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce’s 22nd Black Tie Awards on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Submitted)
Ladysmith businesses recognized at Black Tie Awards

Black Tie Awards are given annually by the Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce

Ladysmith’s Town Council met on May 4 and set a 0.52 percent increase for 2021 property taxes. (Town of Ladysmith/YouTube)
Town of Ladysmith adopts 0.52 percent tax increase for 2021

Mayor Aaron Stone praises the increase as among the ‘lowest in the province’

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies. (CVRD photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
Unlawful entry triggers heart condition for Ladysmith woman

An intoxicated man entered the Lavines’ apartment in the middle of the afternoon

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O���Connell photo)
Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

The courthouse in Nanaimo, B.C. (News Bulletin file)
Island man sentenced in Nanaimo after causing a dog unnecessary pain and suffering

Kiefer Tyson Giroux, 26, of Nanoose Bay, given six-month sentence

Following a one-year pause due to the pandemic, the Snowbirds were back in the skies over the Comox Valley Wednesday (May 5) morning. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Video: Snowbirds hold first training session in Comox Valley in more than 2 years

The team will conduct their training from May 4 to 26 in the area

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

Most Read