Rapid testing clinical study program paused for unspecified reason

The clinical study rapid testing site open to all asymptomatic people on campus — intended to run throughout term one — has been halted.

Earlier this year, UBC Nursing launched a clinical study rapid testing site at the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. Separate from the university’s mandatory testing for people who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or did not disclose their vaccination status to the university, the study was led by the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research Professor Sabrina Wong. Asymptomatic community members were able to register for rapid tests.

Regulated by Health Canada, the study aimed to determine whether self-administered COVID-19 technology is a feasible testing option for Canada’s public.

The website currently states that the study had been “temporarily paused” with no mention of how long the closure will last.

Wong said she was unable to comment on the reasons behind the closure due to the nature of the ongoing study. UBC Media Relations Director of University Affairs Matthew Ramsey reaffirmed that this rapid testing was “not a service provided by the institution.”

He stated that the status of the study is overseen by the relevant Research Ethics Board (REB) — “independent committees established by the University and in partnership with its affiliated hospitals and research institutes.”

“Acting on behalf of these institutions, REBs are authorized to review the ethical acceptability of research and to approve, reject, propose modifications to, pause or terminate any proposed or ongoing research involving human participants. REB deliberations are considered private and confidential. The REB does not publicly comment on the specifics of individual studies,” Ramsey wrote.

UBC has had rapid testing on campus on and off throughout the last year. In February 2021, it launched a rapid testing pilot for first years in residence. Another rapid testing clinic launched in May. Currently, no rapid testing exists on campus for those who are fully vaccinated.

The closest symptomatic testing site remains a 50-minute bus ride from campus.