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Rapid Antigen Test Statistics

Nearly a million Canadians would spend $100 or more on a rapid antigen Covid test

The Omicron wave has brought Canada’s highest case rates since the start of the pandemic, which means renewed fear of catching COVID-19 has led millions of Canadians to seek out rapid antigen tests (RATS) – especially in 2022, when access to PCR tests is restricted in many provinces.

We asked Canadians if they would buy rapid antigen tests – why they would buy, and exactly how much they would spend on a single test.

Who is buying rapid antigen tests and why?

We asked Canadians if they have ever bought, or are planning to buy, a rapid antigen test and it turns out about 9 million Canadians (29%) have used or would consider using one.

Key Findings:

  • Cost is a barrier for 3% (approximately 1 million Canadians), saying they would buy tests but they see them as too expensive.
  • With free tests in short supply, the nearly 4.5 million Canadians who say they are relying on free tests may find themselves empty-handed.
  • 2.3 million Canadians have bought rapid antigen tests because they like the instant results (3%) or for peace of mind (4%).
  • Women are more likely to say they would use a test (43% versus 38% of men), but they are also more likely to say they are too expensive (4% versus 3% of men).
  • About 3 in 10 younger Canadians aged 18–34 say they don’t need a test, versus just 2 in 10 seniors aged 65+(22%).

How much will Canadians spend on rapid antigen tests?

With tests scarce in Canadian pharmacies or other retail outlets, thousands of Canadians are turning online every day to search for COVID-19 tests.

We asked Canadians what they would spend on a rapid test and just 3 in 10 Canadians would spend any amount at all. The majority of those (just over 9 million Canadians) would pay $5 to $25 on a single antigen test.

Surprisingly, nearly a million of them would spend $100 or more on a test! That’s approximately 500% more than the standard price for a single at-home test (about $15).

Key Findings:

  • Most Canadians who would buy a rapid antigen test would just spend $5 (18%).
  • While women overall are more likely to buy antigen tests than men (33% versus 28%), each gender is equally as likely to spend $100 or more on a test (3% each).
  • Those aged 25–34 are willing to spend the most (with 5% willing to spend $100 or more).

Rapid antigen supply crisis: Expert insights and recommendations

The motivation when buying rapid antigen tests is typically fuelled by the desire to protect individual health and the wellbeing of family and friends. Still, it is also important to research and be aware of the risks involved when sourcing these tests.

General use for peace of mind or fast results

Mike Schwarz of myZone Health highlights the importance of avoiding scams and focusing on reputable sellers:

“Sadly, we are hearing countless reports of sellers willing to exploit frustrated shoppers looking for hard-to-find COVID-19 tests. Typically, these people will run a scam where they will offer tests, accept payment, and then stop all communication. It’s important to buy from a reputable supplier, especially when spending more on bulk orders, and always be sure to first check the product is in stock and ready to ship to you before you click to purchase.”

Official health professional assisted results – good for travel

Daniel Gurman, president of Go Test Rapide, explains how to source tests for those looking for more official and accurate results:

“While the testing focus of the Omicron wave is mainly rapid antigens for quick answers, no doubt there will be millions of Canadian travellers in the coming months who will require official results for their upcoming 2022 trips. We encourage Canadian travellers and other groups who need highly accurate rapid antigen or PCR tests, and speedy verifiable results, to use services that provide the help and guidance of a medical professional. This way, Canadians don’t experience any at-home testing errors that can put their plans at risk.”

Tips for the COVID-19 test seeker

With Omicron sweeping Canada, the demand for rapid antigen tests is outpacing supply, so carefully consider the following tips to avoid mistakes when stocking your COVID-19 kit.

  • Determine the type of test government regulations changed in light of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, preventing anyone but the most vulnerable Canadians (for example, long-term care residents and health care workers) access to PCR tests in many regions. Rapid antigen tests (RATS) are now becoming the accepted standard when you are in need of quick answers.
  • Keep calm — Often, during post-exposure to someone with COVID-19, the urge is to test as quickly as possible. However, with rapid-antigen tests in short supply, it makes sense to understand the testing timeline so you don’t test too early and/or too often, putting you at risk for several false negatives if you test too early (which could give you a false sense of confidence that you don’t have COVID-19) and deplete your supply of personal tests unnecessarily.
  • Verify suppliers, stock and shipping estimates — Be sure to check sites that list reputable suppliers and only purchase from suppliers who are approved by Health Canada and who provide up-to-date information on current stock and shipping estimates. Also, be sure to read reviews so you know you are getting an accurate test that will give you the peace of mind you are seeking.

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