Published:January 1, 2022
Danger: The COVID-19 rapid test kits being distributed in Alberta come with a warning — do not use at home and only use if you’re a medical expert.
These are the same kits experts across the country are urging people to test themselves with to make sure they’re not COVID-19 positive before work or a social function.
A Fort McMurray woman said she “became concerned” when she read the insert in the rapid test kit she picked up at a local Alberta Health Services (AHS) walk-in clinic.
Connie Shields, a retired dental hygenist who now runs MIB Moving in Fort McMurray, said she picked up her free Rapid Response test kit on Thursday and proceeded to read the product insert provided.
“I didn’t know where to go with this,” Shields told the Western Standard after finding what she called “some concerning things” on the insert.
“This test is authorized for use at the Point of Care i.e., in patient care settings,” Shields said.
The third paragraph in the insert reads: “The Rapid Response COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device is intended for use by trained laboratory personnel or health care professionals.”
Shields pointed to another “concerning” item listed in the ‘Precautions’ section stating: “This device contains material of animal origin and should be handled as a potential biohazard.”
Finally, under the ‘Limitations of the Test’ section, Sheilds pointed to item number nine which states: “This assay is not intended for home testing (or self-testing).
Confused and wanting answers, Shields said she contacted the manufacturer — Canadian biotechnology company BTNX Inc. — for clarification.
“His words were, ‘These are authorized by Health Canada under the interim order for professional use only in patient-care settings. It has not been authorized for home or self-testing,’ and he told me they have only applied for home-testing authorization.”
She also learned the tests contain bovine serum albumin, a protein derived from cows used as a protein concentration standard in lab experiments.
When theWestern Standard spoke with Yifan Wei, a BTNX Inc. customer support representative for the company, the same response was provided.
Wei said the company has only received approval from Health Canada for use in medical settings for the COVID-19 rapid response testing kits and said approval for at-home use is “coming very slowly.”
“Most provincial Ministry of Health websites have instructions on how to safely dispose of the used tests,” said Wei, adding he recommends covering the test up before throwing it away.
Although instructions on how to properly dispose of a rapid test can be found on the Canadian government’s website, the Western Standard was unable to find disposal instructions on the Alberta government’s rapid testing information page.