Quebec's Frustrating Rapid Test Shortage Could End Soon With 70 Million In The Pipeline

It may be easier to get your hands on a COVID-19 test kit in the next few months.

Associate Editor
Quebec's Frustrating Rapid Test Shortage Could End Soon With 70 Million In The Pipeline

If finding a rapid test in Quebec has felt like unsuccessfully digging for gold lately, it may soon be easier to get your hands on a (figuratively) shimmering swab kit. On Thursday, Quebec's Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) announced that it had partnered with a private company to supply the province with 70 million COVID-19 rapid tests over the next few months.

According to a press release issued on Thursday, the province has reached an agreement with MedSup Medical, a Quebec-based manufacturer, distributor and importer of medical equipment. However, it says "the execution of the contract is conditional on obtaining Health Canada approvals."

If approved, these 70 million tests will come in addition to the 24 million already expected from other sources, such as the federal government. The first MedSup tests are set to be produced in China until production gradually transfers over to a Montreal plant starting in February.

"This is in line with the government's objective to ensure the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) by concluding agreements with Quebec manufacturers for the production of strategic products, as provided for in the action plan for the 2nd wave," the MSSS says.

Here's the rollout schedule, according to the press release:

  • January: 10 million tests
  • February: 20 million
  • March: 20 million
  • April: 15 million
  • May: 5 million

The MSSS says more rapid tests could be added if needed in April and May.

In the press release, the MSSS reminds Quebecers that PCR testing in the province is now reserved for "higher priority clients," including health care workers, First Nations and Inuit community members, and school staff.

If you're experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and you're not listed as a higher priority by the government, the MSSS says you should turn to rapid tests. If you can't access rapid tests, act as if you're COVID-positive by following the proper isolation protocol for your given situation, it says.

"As access to these tests has been difficult and unpredictable in recent weeks, this agreement appears to be a solution that will contribute to better management of COVID-19 prevention," the MSSS says.

This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

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