'It's a game-changer': Experts say new COVID rapid testing device could have significant impact to reduce COVID-19 transmission

An Ottawa-based company has received Health Canada approval for a new COVID-19 rapid testing device — and some local health experts are calling it a "game changer."

"I think this is huge, I think it’s a game changer, and I think it’s also pretty cool that it’s a local company from Ottawa," said Dr. Kwadwo Kyeremanteng, a critical and palliative car doctor.

Spartan Bioscience said its Spartan Cube is the first truly mobile, rapid PCR test for COVID-19 for the Canadian Market. The company said it could provide test results within an hour.

"We’re producing it in Canada, so we have a dedicated supply chain and all of our supply is going to meet the needs of the federal government, as well as our commercials counts," said Roger Eacock, CEO of Spartan Bioscience.

"It’s available and can be used anywhere you have power available. It’s rapid, it’s very small, and it’s very accurate."

Some local health experts say expanding this kind of testing could make a big difference.

"I think this is something that could absolutely help reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 and help us get through this pandemic," said Dr. Kyeremanteng.

The Ontario government said this rapid testing will help support critical workplaces, and some experts predict it will positively impact the economy too.

"There’s two keys to reopening the economy, vaccinate as many people as possible and rollout rapid testing as quickly and as broadly as possible. This will have a very strong positive impact on the economy,” said economist Ian Lee.

This comes as the province is faced with a setback on the vaccine front with no shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine expected this week.

"Listen, it’s obviously far from ideal," said Dr. Isaac Bogoch, infectious diseases specialist.

To date, Ontario has received a total of over 411,000 doses and just over 280,000 have been administered.

"There’s more to it than vaccine in and vaccine out, there are supply chain issues and logistics that have to be adhered to," said Dr. Bogoch.