BY PAMELA FAYERMAN
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. (CPSBC) ordered a mobile lab company doing private COVID-2019 antibody testing in homes and offices to shut down in this province.
The service – which was incredibly popular since so many people want to know if they have immunity to COVID, violated the medical regulator’s rules so the private pay service has stopped in B.C. while in Alberta and Ontario, it carries on.
“Our phone and emails have been non-stop from B.C. residents asking for testing but I am not going to defy a directive from the CPSBC until I am invited back in,” said Mike Kuzmickas, president of Ichor.
The Alberta-based start-up is still offering the home or office-based service to customers in Ontario and Alberta where ndividuals and companies can request both COVID swabs and blood-based antibody tests.
“We were operating in Vancouver and Kelowna for a very short period of time but then I was contacted and sent a cease and desist from the College… and in a (subsequent) phone call, they explained to me why I was asked to leave the province:
“The only people who can perform phlebotomy in BC must be associated with an accredited BC lab; we are not.
“The only tests that can be offered in B.C. must be from accredited B.C. labs; our offerings are either from the U.S. or from Alberta.
And only B.C. physicians can requisition tests inside B.C.; our medical director is from Alberta.”
The College took action against Ichor after my story about its novel services. The article is the second most popular piece I’ve written since starting this website at the beginning of May. That suggests there’s a pent-up demand for private antibody testing since it is not available to the general population; only groups selected by government-funded researchers for studies are offered such tests.
Antibody testing shows whether individuals have had a past COVID-19 infection but weren’t tested because they were either asymptomatic or couldn’t access testing in the first few months of the pandemic. Having serology testing – as antibody testing is also known – can offer some clarity or peace of mind about whether individuals might have some immunity. But as experts have pointed out, antibodies may only circulate in the body for a short time – sometimes as little as weeks.
Ichor (pronounced eye-core) Blood Services charges $75 for the home or office visit plus $120 for the antibody test. The COVID-19 test is also available at $190. A requisition from a physician is required.
Kuzmickas said he believes his company is “still the only small-cap private company offering antibody testing in Alberta and Ontario (but) I know the provincial labs are starting to catch up, DynaCare in Ontario is offering it now and we will be switching over to an Alberta test here in a couple of weeks as well.”
He said in Alberta, there are loads of private companies seeking testing for their employees.
“We have also secured small commercial leases in Calgary and Edmonton to set up clinical spaces for testing visitors from out of the city, or larger groups, and will be operational with these in October.”