A group of concerned British Columbians have launched a petition to Premier John Horgan to get rapid tests into homes in the wake of surging cases of coronavirus.
Launched in December 2021 by a group called the "Covid Test Finders," the Chang.org petition urges the B.C. premier to provide free rapid antigen tests to every household in the province.
"The Omicron variant is here now, and COVID-19 cases are rising by the day," reads the petition. "Research shows that rapid antigen tests are instrumental in preventing asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 as they provide quick and reliable results."
The group notes that the pandemic is seeing a surge in cases due to a lack of "equitable public health measures" and the cost of the tests may prevent locals from buying them. Further, families in other provinces have had access to them for weeks, free of charge.
"Several nurses, doctors, personal support workers, teachers, members of the public and science experts are calling for free COVID-19 rapid antigen tests for BC residents. Time for Premier Horgan to listen and follow the science!"
As of Jan. 6, 14,904 people have signed the petition.
Locals have expressed growing frustration over the lack of rapid tests in B.C. as other provinces have provided free rapid tests through pharmacies. However, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters in a press briefing on Dec.14 that there is a "global supply issue" for rapid antigen tests.
"Unfortunately, there is a global supply issue with many of these tests and we've not been able to get them in in the numbers that would be helpful for us across Canada or here in B.C. yet," she explained.
Public health has also been using rapid antigen tests to supplement PCR testing based on risk. People who are younger and don't have underlying risk factors, particularly if they are fully vaccinated, will most likely receive a rapid test.
While British Columbians have been able to order rapid antigen tests online, no pharmacies in British Columbia have made them available for in-store purchases. Now, London Drugs says the tests should hit B.C. shelves within the month.