Ottawa company produces a new rapid test for COVID-19

The Canadian-made test can produce results in under an hour, without laboratory equipment.
By: Greggory Clark
April 13, 2020
Photo: Dr. Paul Lem, M.D. (courtesy of Spartan Bioscience)

Until now, COVID-19 tests have been processed through large laboratory machinery. But an Ottawa-based company's newly designed test is done with a handheld DNA analyzer, which allows health care workers to test patients and receive results without sending samples to a lab. Each handheld test can process about 10 to 15 tests a day.

This innovation will be especially significant for Canadians living in rural and remote areas, as well as Indigenous communities, which don't have ready access to lab machinery. "If you live outside a major city... this is what you're going to have to use," says Dr. Paul Lem, Spartan Bioscience's CEO.

Spartan Bioscience will start shipping "thousands of tests" this week, Dr. Lem told The Globe & Mail. In about a month, he expects they will be producing 10,000 tests a week, scaling up to 100,000 to 200,000 a week this summer.

Governments from around the world are also asking the Canadian company to supply them with tests. "We're deliberately not taking any orders outside of Canada, even though we're bombarded with orders," said Dr. Lem, adding that his company will think about exporting when it can scale up production to meet the demand in Canada first.

The company has orders from the federal government as well as several provinces, with more to be announced.

Source: The Globe & Mail



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