UBC rapid test pilot supports COVID-19 testing in risky environments

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – On the heels of a rapid COVID-19 test pilot project at UBC, researchers at the university believe the test could be used more broadly across the province.

Testing happened in an asymptomatic community at the university’s Orchard Commons residences between February and April.

Dr. Sabrina Wong with the UBC School of Nursing says more than 1,000 students volunteered to be tested multiple times, with over 3,500 nasal-swab rapid tests completed. More than 20 positive cases were detected.

“We were able to break chains of transmission earlier, so that we can get those people out of the general community and into some isolation,” Wong said.

“[One reason] why we were doing this at UBC was because of the congregate housing sites. We wanted to see if it would work, which it did,” she claimed.

Related article: Rapid COVID-19 testing at YVR contributes to safer travel: study

As more people are vaccinated against COVID-19, Wong doesn’t think widespread rapid testing will be used. Instead, she thinks it could be more useful in sector-specific workplaces with inherent risk.

“Migrant farm workers who live in congregate housing, tree-planting sites, or mining sites,” Wong listed as examples.

She says events like conferences and sports tournaments would also be appropriate situations for rapid testing.

Researches plan to expand their studies in the summer to include a look at self-administration by health care professionals and the general public.

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