The World Forum - April 19th, 2024

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Canadian Federal government struggling to get rid of millions of extra COVID-19 rapid tests


The federal government is sitting on a stockpile of 39 million extra rapid tests for COVID-19 and is struggling to get rid of them without chucking them in the trash, an internal Health Canada memo shows.

As the Omicron variant of the virus began to tear across Canada at the end of 2021, the government rapidly bought up rapid antigen tests, distributing most of them to the provinces so people could swab themselves for the virus at home.

Now that far fewer people are subjecting themselves to the brain-tickling sensation of a COVID-19 test outside of hospitals and other health-care settings, the government appears to have more than it knows what to do with.

Rapid tests were considered both important and valuable in early 2022, as regular test capacity was reserved only for certain cases in most provinces. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canada has spent roughly $5 billion on rapid tests.