First antigen rapid test for COVID-19 gets Canadian approval


OTTAWA — Health Canada has given the green light to another rapid test for the virus that causes COVID-19.

The Panbio test from Abbott Rapid Diagnostics in Germany is the first antigen test to be approved in Canada.

Antigen tests look for specific markers on the outside of a virus, while all the tests previously approved in Canada look for the novel coronavirus’s genetic material.

The newly approved test can deliver results in 15 minutes, using a nasopharyngeal swab and a device that somewhat resembles a pregnancy-test stick.

Abbott’s website says the test is accurate at diagnosing a positive case 93 per cent of the time, while negative results are accurate 99 per cent of the time.

This is the fourth test approved by Health Canada that can be completed without sending specimens to a laboratory and is the second that can provide results in 15 minutes or less.