Rapid tests: Standing Committee on Health—January 18, 2022
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Rapid COVID-19 testing
Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and continues to explore procurement strategies to support the 2 testing initiatives: rapid-testing and border testing. In support of the rapid-testing initiative, PSPC is pursuing additional agreements to secure access to a variety of rapid tests.
- All questions regarding the regulatory review of tests should be directed to Health Canada (HC)
- For all rapid tests, questions about allocation and distribution should be directed to Health Canada
- The health and safety of Canadians is our number one priority
- Public Services and Procurement Canada supports testing strategies and initiatives by procuring testing supplies, test kits, testing services, and warehousing and logistics services
- The department also processes rapid-testing requests from federal organizations and the private sector to support the return to work
- Since March 2020, we have procured approximately 433 million rapid tests from 14 suppliers. To date, 145 million have been shipped to provinces and territories
- Global demand, constrained supply chains and COVID-19 related production and distribution impacts, mean that there are delivery risks. That is why we have pursued an aggressive procurement strategy and continue to engage regularly with our suppliers
- We continue to work aggressively with suppliers on the planned January deliveries in the range of 140 million and pursue actions to accelerate delivery schedules, reducing repackaging requirements, offering to facilitate logistics both overseas increasing warehousing as needed and facilitating border clearance process
If pressed on Spartan:
- we are grateful for the Canadian companies that have answered the Government of Canada’s call to action and continue to support our pandemic response
Due to constrained supply and sharply escalating rapid test demand due to Omicron, there is significant pressure that has impacted actual delivery dates for the contracted quantities. PSPC supports testing by procuring testing supplies, test kits, testing services, and warehousing and logistics services.
In support of HC’s role to provide test kits to provinces and territories, PSPC has procured over 433 million rapid tests. To date, 145 million tests have been shipped to provinces and territories have received over 88.8 million tests to enable the reopening of the economy, schools and other industries.
PSPC published a request for standing offer (RFSO) on March 16, 2021 for the purchase of additional antigen and molecular rapid tests (polymerase chain reaction (PCR)), which will be extended to February 28, 2022, so that suppliers can submit an offer as soon as their test obtains approval from HC. Canada is looking at options for new RFSOs to ensure we are able to respond to emerging needs with the latest technology and wide range of options.
None of the tests kits procured are for use in border testing initiative.
PSPC has also been supporting provinces and territories and Indigenous Services Canada by procuring laboratory supplies for the general population testing programs: swabs, reagents, lab equipment as well as testing devices that can be used for northern remote and isolated communities. Examples of these devices are Cepheid tests used on GenXpert machine, bMx Biofire.
PSPC has created an “Amazon” type model to support the delivery of tests. Federal organization and pre-approved private sector companies can visit an online catalogue to directly order tests. Once approved by PHAC or HC, orders are processed and shipped directly to the requestor.
HC had bilateral discussions with each province and territory to determine their needs for rapid testing to enable HC to recommend quantities to procure to the Deputy Minister’s Committee on Testing—Regulatory, Procurement and Rollout. Once endorsement received, HC to forward their recommendation to PHAC for the president’s approval. Once approval (including financial commitment) is signed by PHAC’s president, HC/PHAC prepares the required documents to be sent to PSPC for processing of the procurement of the tests.
An interdepartmental working group was set up in January 2022, to coordinate efforts, share and align shipment and delivery information between Health Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada as well as suppliers.
With respect to the testing of federal employees, PSPC is leveraging a competitive contract with a third party service provider, Metro Logistic Inc. to support the storage and distribution of test kits on behalf of HC since October 2021. Prior to October 2021, the SCI contract was used for the warehousing and distribution of tests to federal employees. For the private sector requests, PSPC has contracted SCI Group Inc. to house inventory and support order fulfillment for all testing programs at 4 warehouses across Canada: [Redacted]
PSPC procures 3 types of tests for Canada, including rapid tests.
Nucleic acid / Molecular
Also called molecular testing (and is often called PCR). Molecular tests detect the virus' genetic material (nucleic acids). Best and most accurate test for diagnosing active COVID-19 infection in patients with symptoms. Mostly used in a lab, but some are also for use in a point of care setting. All tests used for border testing program and for entry to Canada are molecular/PCR tests.
Tests procured: bMx BioFire, Abbott ID Now, Cepheid, Lucira
Antigen-based tests detect specific proteins on the surface of the virus. They're often called rapid tests, as they typically provide results in less than an hour. In general, antigen tests are designed to be used at point of care by a health care professional or trained operator, but lab-based antigen tests also exist.
Tests procured: BD Veritor, Abbott Panbio, Quidel Sofia, BTNX Rapid Response, Quidel QuickVue, Roche SD Biosensor, Assuretch, Artron
These tests do not detect the virus itself. Instead, they detect the antibodies produced in response to an infection. These tests are not appropriate for diagnosing COVID-19. However, Health Canada is authorizing the sale in Canada of serological testing devices used for the detection of antibodies.
Tests procured: PSPC awarded a contract to Abbott for this type of test, which was used by the labs associated with the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force.
The tests can be used in 3 different settings:
- conventional sample collection by a trained professional and sent to a laboratory for analysis and reporting
- various points-of-care (example: pharmacy or doctor’s office) sampled or observed by a trained professional and results are provided on-site
- at home through self-testing without the supervision of a health care professional and results appear on the device
Supporting COVID-19 border testing
Public Services and Procurement Canada has issued contracts to support border testing measures across Canada.
- The Government of Canada continues to take unprecedented action to protect the health and safety of Canadians against further transmission of COVID-19
- Public Services and Procurement Canada is a key player in Canada’s response to the pandemic by leading the procurement of testing, border testing services, personal protective equipment (PPE), laboratory equipment and vaccines
- Since February 2021, border testing for travellers entering Canada has been conducted and will continue to evolve based on public health requirements
- Notably, in response to the Omicron variant, Canada has imposed mandatory testing for an increased number of international travellers other than those arriving from US with the objective to test all international travelers
- Public Services and Procurement Canada is currently working with the end-to-end service providers on their plans to increase capacity in response
- To date, Public Services and Procurement Canada has awarded 15 contracts for a combined value of up to $1.5 billion for border testing and supplemental testing services (security services, call centres, remote testing and screening, accommodations, management of travellers, traffic and cleaning)
- Unlike rapid tests, the border testing program requires an end-to-end solutions for which we have awarded over 50 contracts in support of Public Health Agency of Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada
- These contracts support efforts in managing travellers crossing Canadian borders, for services related to testing, accommodations, guards, humanitarian support, transportation, information technology (IT) applications, and a call centre
If pressed on Calgary Health Authority for border testing:
- all questions relating to this topic should be referred to Health Canada (Public Services and Procurement Canada is not involved in the award of the original agreement)
To support the Border Testing Program requirements for COVID-19 of travellers entering Canada at international airports and land ports of entry, PSPC awarded 5 contracts with 4 suppliers in 2021 to collect, process and report PCR test specimens.
In response to the Omicron variant, Canada has updated its Border Testing Program requirements which has led to a significant increase of the mandatory random testing needs, specifically for air travellers.
PSPC is continuously working with Canadian suppliers to promptly implement innovative solutions, such as partnering with pharmacies and other business to meet the evolving COVID-19 testing capacity needs across Canada.
Switch Health Holdings Inc.
A contract was awarded to Switch Health Holdings Inc. on February 20, 2021, for day 1 and day 8 testing for travellers arriving by air or land borders in Ontario, Alberta and the Atlantic region.
The contract was then amended in April 2021 to include additional testing in Ontario for temporary foreign workers, asylum seekers, those in isolation at designated quarantine facilities, and other individuals entering Canada for whom specimen self-collection may not be possible. Switch will provide mobile units as well as telehealth appointments to conduct on-site specimen collection, on-site observed specimen collection and virtual observed specimen collection.
The contract was amended on October 30, 2021, to extend it to November 30, 2021.
The contract was amended again from December 1, 2021, to extend it to May 31, 2022.
A contract was awarded to Dynacare on April 26, 2021, for day 8 testing for temporary foreign workers in Quebec. This included dedicated support services in French and English for appointment booking, test administration and results management, as well as mobile services for on-site specimen collection.
The contract was amended on July 30, 2021, to extend the contract until August 15, 2021 and add additional testing services for land and air ports of entry for Manitoba and Quebec.
The contract was amended again on August 14, 2021 to extend the contract until October 31, 2021 and add additional on-site testing for airports in Manitoba and Quebec.
The contract was amended again on October 30, 2021, to extend it to December 31, 2021.
Following the new request for proposal (RFP), Dynacare was awarded a new contract effective January 1, 2022, for day1 and day 8 testing of travellers entering Canada in the region of Manitoba and Quebec, at select airports and land border crossing, as well as temporary foreign workers. This includes dedicated support services in French and English for appointment booking, test administration and results management, as well as mobile services for on-site and virtual specimen collection.
The new contract will expire on April 30, 2022.
A contract was awarded to LifeLabs on June 23, 2021, for day 1 testing of all travellers arriving at Vancouver Airport and day 1 and day 8 testing for all travellers crossing land borders in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Yukon.
The contract was amended on June 30, 2021, to add day 8 testing for travellers arriving at Vancouver Airport.
The current contract will expire on January 31, 2022.
Biron Laboratoires Santé
Following the new RFP, Biron was awarded a contract effective December 21, 2021, for the Quebec Region for day 1 and day 8 testing of travellers entering Canada at the airports and several land border crossings, including the testing of refugees and asylum seekers entering Canada at Roxham Road. This includes dedicated support services in French and English for appointment booking, test administration and results management, as well as mobile services for on-site and virtual specimen collection. Biron Groupe Santé will continue their ramp-up in the coming weeks and will become fully operational by mid-February 2022.
The contract will expire on April 30, 2022.
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