Testing for COVID-19 is one of the solutions being put forward to reduce the spread of the virus. Detecting COVID-19 reliably and quickly, without the need for laboratory testing, would therefore have significant benefits, such as improved access to testing and reduced laboratory burdens.
A group of researchers and clinicians including Dr. Annie-Claude Labbé, a medical microbiologist-infectious disease specialist at the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR), part of the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-l'Île-de-Montréal and the Department of medical biology laboratories, Grappe Optilab-CHUM, looked into the question.
The PRONTO study, which took place from December 2020 to February 2021, aimed to assess the clinical performance of Abbott ID NOWTM's COVID-19 diagnostic method used at the point of care and its impact on the timeframe for disclosure of test results. This ID NOWTM rapid test evaluation project was carried out on volunteers presenting to three designated testing clinics in Quebec, Lévis and Montreal with symptoms compatible with COVID-19. Their samples were analyzed with the ID NOWTM kit directly in screening centers from a throat swab and anterior nostrils and, for comparison purposes, nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) were also carried out using a throat and nasopharyngeal swab in the laboratories of the CHU de Québec, Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis and Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont (HMR).
The results of the PRONTO study confirm that, in this population, the rapid ID NOWTM test has a sensitivity of 96% (95% CI 94-98) compared to 99% (95% CI 98-100) for NAAT. Thus, the use of ID NOWTM in symptomatic people in testing clinics represents a reliable alternative to tests that need to be analyzed in the laboratory.
This rapid test was rolled out in designated centers of the CIUSSS de l'Est-de-Île-de-Montréal as of January 2021 and is now also available in certain GMF clinics in East Montreal. To date, more than 304 devices and 900,000 ID Now tests have been deployed in the health and social services network.
“I would like to thank all the participants and the people who contributed to setting up and carrying out this research project. I particularly underline the contribution of the Centre de recherché de l’Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont, the Chauveau testing clinic as well as the microbiology and molecular diagnostic laboratories of the HMR (Optilab-CHUM cluster) ", underlines Dr. Labbé.