Quebec rapid tests testing unvaccinated

Latest data shows rapid tests detect only 50% of Omicron cases

The Scientific Director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table warns against using a negative test as a pass to gather.

Swiss physician Dr. Peter Jüni, the Scientific Director of Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, is warning Canadians not to rely on rapid tests due to their lack of effectiveness in the detection of the Omicron variant. Based on the latest data, he told CBC that rapid tests only detect Omicron 50% of the time. Jüni specifically discouraged the use of rapid tests as a pass for gathering with people outside your household.

“Rapid tests now, with Omicron, are only able to detect roughly 50% of infectious cases out there. The other 50% just stay negative on the rapid test, and that’s the problem.

“If you have a (negative) rapid test right now, it doesn’t mean anything regarding that you’re safe to meet with other people. That’s a blast from the past. This was okay for Delta, etc, but it won’t work anymore for Omicron, so don’t use the rapid test for this purpose. It’s not working — it’s a fallacy now.”

Dr. Peter Jüni

This report comes just as the federal government is announcing the delivery of 140 million more rapid tests to the provinces and territories this month (see the ongoing press conference below), and just as Quebec has made PCR tests unavailable to the general public.

Latest data shows rapid tests detect only 50% of Omicron cases

Infectious diseases specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch of the Toronto General Hospital noted in a CBC interview this afternoon that while negative results from rapid tests can’t always be trusted, a positive result from a rapid test is absolutely trustworthy.

“I don’t think we’re at a point where we should discard the test altogether. I think they still can play a very helpful role.”

Dr. Isaac Bogoch

This article was originally published at 11:58 a.m. and updated at 12:57 p.m.

For the latest in news, please visit the News section.