62 Degrees North, a Yellowknife medical services company, has introduced its first Covid-19 rapid analyzer that will provide test results in 45 minutes.
The device can currently process Covid testing results in 2.5 hours, according to a Facebook post by the company. However, 62 Degrees North has ordered two more identical RT-PCR machines with new cartridges, expected to arrive in December.
The types of cassettes coming with that shipment will reduce testing time to less than an hour at the Tli Cho Logistics office at Stanton Plaza.
The device will provide tests for Covid, plus 11 other respiratory conditions, such as influenza A and B, MERS and SARS.
“A sample is collected by using a nasopharyngeal swab, then the swab is placed in a vial with a liquid transport medium which (then) keeps the specimen intact and will allow for it to be transported,” explained Matt Vincent, CEO of 62 Degrees North. “The sample is then transferred to the cassette using a pipette (similar to an eye dropper) and then the cassette containing the specimen is placed into the analyser.”
He said there’s demand in the private sector for the service.
“Basically, it’s for asymptomatic testing, so employers could use it for workers or it could be used for people travelling to an outside area or international country where you would be required to provide a negative rapid test prior to entering,” Vincent posted on the company’s Facebook page.
He said this was the first device that he knows of that exists for private rapid testing in the NWT, noting that Diavik Diamond Mines has a lab set up for its own staff and the Stanton Health Authority its own machines for rapid or lab-based testing.
Vincent said his team has been working for months trying to identify and order a device that would be useful. The machine is produced by UK-based company Bosch Global.
“Over the past several months, our management team has been hard at work to get this rolled out to help ease the worry and burden over Covid-19,” he stated.
Vincent added that his staff were busy over the weekend training and validating the device.
“Since Covid became an issue and entered the territory, we’ve been doing a lot of things like make hand sanitizer in April that was Health Canada approved and we also imported personal protective equipment with new supply chains,” he said. “One of the main things that we received a lot of requests for was rapid testing as well. We have reached out to many companies to get a device and following the Health Canada website and news articles for guidance.”
Vincent said his company will provide dates on its website indicating when people can get tested and they will be able to book online.