FILE – The UBC sign is pictured at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

FILE – The UBC sign is pictured at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

UBC launches COVID rapid testing for asymptomatic on-campus students, staff

University says it’s the first in Canada to use the Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit

B.C.’s largest university will be offering asymptomatic rapid COVID-19 tests to students living in residence and other groups that live and work on the Vancouver campus.

In a Thursday (may 27) press release, the University of B.C. said that the rapid testing clinic is now operational and will run for 13 weeks. The clinic will also be part of a clinical trial.

“As part of this clinic, our research team is collecting data to determine the viability of self-administered rapid COVID-19 testing technology for potential use by the public across Canada,” said study lead researcher Sabrina Wong. “If this self-swab proves to be effective, it has the potential to be used in a number of settings and by the public across the country.”

Wong, who is also a UBC nursing and Centre for Health Services and Policy Research professor, said that if the clinical trial results show the self-swab test is effective, it could be used more widely across the country. The rapid tests involve a self-administered nasal swab that collects the sample from the front area of the nose instead of the nasopharynx. Those individuals who agree to take part in the clinical trial as well will have a nurse conduct a swab or PCR test to test the accuracy of the rapid tests. UBC said that the test being used, the Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit, will be its first use in a university setting.

The rapid testing clinic will be an expansion of a pilot project that ran from February to April. That project saw 1,100 people tested and identified “a number of” asymptomatic cases.

Along with students living on campus, critical service employees, like custodial and campus security staff, as well as other students already on campus, such as varsity athletes, and those attending select in-person classes, including faculty members, are also eligible to take part.

“We are pleased to be expanding our rapid screening clinic to include more students, faculty and staff on campus,” said Rae Ann Aldridge, executive director of safety and risk services at UBC. “This clinic provides us with another tool to help keep our campus community safer from COVID-19.”

Participants must be asymptomatic and over 16 years old. Vaccinated individuals can get tested but won’t be eligible for the clinical trial.

For more information, go to: www.housing.ubc.ca/rapidtest.

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