Federal government publishes new guidance for companies developing rapid COVID-19 tests

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A man shows identification outside a COVID-19 testing clinic, in Montreal, on Sept. 27, 2020.

Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

The federal government is publishing new advice for companies rushing to develop rapid tests for COVID-19 as Ottawa faces growing calls to approve such devices.

The calls to approve devices that can provide faster results come as hospitals and public health agencies across Canada are struggling to keep up with the demand for COVID-19 tests.

Many, including the Opposition Conservatives, have pointed out such tests already being rolled out in the U.S. and other countries.

Dr. Supriya Sharma, chief medical adviser at Health Canada, says the department is making it a top priority to review the rapid tests already submitted for approval.

Sharma says it is critical to ensure the tests are accurate and don’t produce a large number of false results, and the new guidance will help companies understand what is expected of them.

She also says Canada’s approval process is similar to other countries, and that some of the rapid tests already rolled out elsewhere simply have not been submitted for Canadian approval.

As the World Health Organization sends 120 million rapid COVID-19 tests to poorer countries Conservative health critic Michelle Rempel Garner asks Liberal ministers why Canadians can’t use them yet. The Canadian Press

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