Less expensive COVID-19 PCR tests being offered for cross-border travellers

A Windsor-based bio-tech company is offering less expensive COVID-19 PCR tests for cross-border travellers now that the U.S. land border slated to re-open to fully vaccinated travellers on Nov. 8.

Audacia Bio Science said the requirement for a negative PCR test result to enter or re-enter Canada has become a significant impediment to cross border travel between Windsor and Detroit, so they are providing another option.

“Having to get a PCR test to come into Canada is very prohibitive for a lot of people,” said Dr. Phillip Ola, Chief Executive Officer of Audacia Bio Science.

The typical cost of a PCR test in Canada ranges from $150 - $300, a price point which could be too much for many people looking to travel for business, family visits or day trips.

“The idea is to make it more accessible for a lot more people to travel in and out of Detroit,” Ola said.

Audacia Bio Science, in partnership with RapidBio laboratories, has launched Assure COVID Travel Clinics, offering PCR tests as low as $75 a test for a same day result.

“I think when you haven’t seen family for a while and there’s urgent things you need to do you will spend that to get over there for a day and get back,” Ola said.

There are three locations, one near Detroit Metro Airport, one off Jefferson Avenue in Indian Village and the other in Mexican Town.

“All testing is performed in our locations in Detroit (close to both the tunnel and the bridge),” said Ola. “For tests performed before noon results will be available the same day. For tests completed after 12 noon results will be available the following day. For an additional fee we can also offer test results within a 30-minute window.”

A rapid PCR test for urgent cases is available for $150.

Dr. Stephen Bartol, a partner with Audacia Bio Science, said the tests with their Michigan laboratory partner offer fast and reliable results, giving them the assurance needed to make cross border travel both safe and convenient.

“We recognize that this solution may not be for everyday tripper, nor does it address the expensive PCR pricing in Canada, but rest assured we are collaborating with both government and local stakeholders to further reduce the testing burden,” said Bartol.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said $75 may still be a lot for many people and he hopes people won’t abuse the assessment centre when the land border reopens to non-essential travel on Monday.

“We’re hopeful that this kind of rule doesn’t actually affect the assessment centre for those who actually need a test because of a COVID exposure,” he said.

Windsor West MP Brian Masse said he would like to see the Canadian government pay for the tests, like the United States government does.

He said the federal government has not been transparent enough.

“That’s why there needs to be more openness and accountability,” Masse said. “That’s why we need the government to come forward and say ‘well we need continue this policy for this reason because of the science.’”

With people coming to Canada from all over the world, Dr. Ola said antigen testing would be a smarter testing strategy with travellers taking an antigen test before heading across the border.

“Three to four days later, you should take another antigen test just to make sure what you did over there, you did not get infected and bring it back,” Ola said.