UBC launches COVID-19 rapid testing clinic for students, others on campus

UBC is launching a new COVID-19 rapid testing clinic for any students living in residence and other select groups living and working on the Vancouver campus.

The clinic—the first in Canada to use the Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit in a university setting—launches May 26 and will run for 13 weeks. It also includes a clinical trial component with researchers studying the viability of self-administered rapid screening tests for the general public across Canada. The clinic will be run on software provided by Vancouver-based health software company Thrive Health.

“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,” says the study’s lead researcher and UBC nursing and Centre for Health Services and Policy Research professor Dr. 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.”

The clinic is the first in Canada to use the Roche Rapid Antigen Test in a university setting. Credit: Roche

The clinic—located on the third floor of Orchard Commons Residence—is an expansion of the rapid testing pilot held on the UBC Vancouver campus from February to April this year. The pilot saw more than 1,100 participants and the identification of a number of asymptomatic positive cases that helped interrupt possible chains of transmission.

While the pilot was primarily aimed at testing students and staff living and working in first-year residence, the expanded screening clinic will be open to all student housing residents. 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,” says 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 of age. While those who have been vaccinated can also get tested, they cannot participate in the research aspect of the clinic.

At the clinic, participants will be given a self-administered nasal swab that comfortably collects the sample from the front area of the nose instead of the nasopharynx. The Roche SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test Kit is currently under review by Health Canada for nasal collection.

Participants will also have the option to volunteer to take part in the clinical trial while getting screened. After conducting the self-swab, trial participants will have a nurse also conduct the swab or a PCR test to determine the rapid antigen test kit’s accuracy and sensitivity. Appointments take about 30 minutes, with results ready after 15 minutes.

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