spartan bioscience covid-19

Health Canada approves handheld portable COVID-19 test kit

A Canadian biotechnology firm's revolutionary DNA analyzer has just been approved to start helping medical professionals across the country combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Spartan Bioscience, based in Ottawa, announced this morning that Health Canada had just signed off on its new "rapid, accurate and portable COVID-19 test."

With the federal government's permission, Spartan can now start shipping test units to its partners across the country for use in COVID-19 assessment centres, among other places, and says it plans to do so immediately.

"We are grateful to the Government of Canada for working closely with us to expedite the review and approval process," said the company's CEO, Dr. Paul Lem, in a release issued Monday. 

"There is an urgent unmet need for rapid COVID-19 testing, and as a proudly Canadian company, we are excited that our technology will be an important part of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada."

Known for inventing the world's smallest DNA analyzer — the Spartan Cube — Spartan says that its automated COVID-19 test kits can be used not only by doctors, nurses and pharmacists at clinics, but by non-laboratory personnel in airports, at border crossings and in remote communities.

The automated test consists of one coffee cup-sized Spartan cube which, when paired with Spartan's proprietary COVID-19 test cartridges and swabs, can provide accurate test results in as little as 30 minutes.

"We think it's a game changer," said Lem to his alma mater, the University of Toronto, in late March. "We're seeing headlines about how there's a global shortage in testing. Canada is no exception... in a country like ours that’s so spread out, we’re going to need these portable testing devices to control COVID-19."

Government leaders clearly agree: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 20 that Spartan would receive a $74 million grant through the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program to fast-track production on its new COVID-19 test kit system.

"Canadian companies are answering the call to provide critical support to our healthcare workers, who are on the front lines of our country's fight against COVID-19," said Trudeau at the time.

"As the situation continues to evolve, the Government of Canada will be there to work with Canadian industry to find solutions that will support our medical professionals and protect the health and safety of all Canadians."

Lead photo by

Spartan Bioscience

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