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Systematic COVID Screening in Montreal

Opinion: All levels of government must take decisive, co-ordinated action now before it's too late opinion piece by salman qureshi and colleagues from the critical care network

Dick Menzies, MD and Jonathon Campbell of the RI-MUHC’s RESP program have been researching systematic screening strategies for COVID-19 since the SARS-CoV-2 virus arrived in Canada. A resulting pilot project involving employees at two companies in Montreal-North began in January of this year and is showing promising results.

The inexpensive screening method involves participants – the employees of these two companies – gargling and rinsing their mouth with a sterile saline solution, which is then returned to the vial and sent to the lab for testing. It is a quick and non-invasive method to test for the virus and it works. So far, test results of 3% of the asymptomatic participants have come back positive.

Despite being denied funding by the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux du Québec, Dr. Menzies and his team of researchers were convinced that an active rather than reactive approach to containment of the virus was necessary. Their paper Active testing of groups at increased risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 in Canada: costs and human resource needs published in September of 2020 details the results of their study carried out on this subject. Convinced of the essential nature of their research, Dr. Menzies and his team continued their pursuit of support, and their efforts were rewarded when the Trottier Family Foundation and the Molson Foundation came on board.

Read more about their research and the pilot project here: