On September 17th, Premier Scott Moe announced that 500,000 Covid rapid antigen tests were available to parents at over 700 schools in Saskatchewan. He also said that another 500,000 kits were on order. These figures are misleading.
Today, Concerned Citizens for COVID Action has learned of the Ministry of Education’s plans to distribute only 200,000 Abbot Pambio rapid antigen test kits (25 tests and 1 bottle of buffer solution) to Saskatchewan families through schools. The distribution of kits to families will put the onus on parents/guardians to administer the swab and correctly use the test for their child(ren).
The sum total of tests is five million. However, the kits cannot be separated into individual/single tests due to batch packaging. There are Canadian manufacturers, Roche and BTNX, of individual test kits (1 test and 1 vial of buffer solution). These kits are not available through Saskatchewan Education.
2016 Census Data reports 69,470 children, living in Saskatchewan, aged 5-14 years. Those children 12 years and over are vaccine-eligible but may seek testing if a classroom case occurs. This also holds true for 32,980 15-19-year-olds (2016 Census). During the course of the coming weeks and months, families may choose to not test on a regular basis if their children remain asymptomatic and are not contacts of positive cases. Therefore, not all the tests in kits purchased and distributed will be used.
Rapid antigen testing is a screening test. An adequate sample is necessary for testing accuracy. It is essential that families confirm positive antigen tests by PCR testing.
At this time, NO rapid test kits are being distributed to parents with only 0- to 4-year-old children. 35,795 children (2016 Census) will remain at risk of Covid infection, as they will not be eligible for the children’s vaccine that will be released for children 5-11 years old. Within Saskatchewan Education, the Early Learning and Child Care Division oversee the approved daycare homes and early learning/childcare centers in the province. This division has yet to communicate plans for rapid antigen test kit distribution.