COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel: Reports and summaries

Reports and summaries of meetings held to date by the expert advisory panel, which provides evidence-informed advice to the federal government on testing and screening.

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Reports

Records of discussion

April 2021

April 7, 2021
  • Objective: To reach a consensus on outstanding issues for the Panel's recommendations regarding partially vaccinated, previously infected, and exempt travellers.
  • The Panel reiterated the importance of basing its recommendations in the evolving science and experience.
  • Next steps: The Panel will incorporate comments from this meeting and the report will be circulated for final comments.

March 2021

March 29, 2021
  • Objective: To discuss the draft Panel report, focusing in particular on the border measure recommendations for vaccinated and partially vaccinated travellers.
  • The Panel co-chairs outlined the draft recommendations for vaccinated travellers and for partially vaccinated travellers, who have received one dose of a two-dose vaccine.
  • The Panel discussed recommendations for vaccinated travellers from high-prevalence countries, quarantine for vaccinated travellers, vaccines that are not Health Canada approved, and how measures should differ for vaccinated travellers versus for partially vaccinated travellers.
  • Next steps: The Panel will integrate comments from this meeting into the report and a new version will be circulated for review.
March 26, 2021
  • Objective: To introduce ex-officio members added for the duration of the Panel's work on borders, introduce a new Panel member focused on bioethics and discuss the draft advice and reach a consensus on recommendations.
  • Panel members discussed their draft recommendations focusing on scope, phasing, technology, rapid antigen testing, quarantine, vaccinated travellers and exempt travellers.
  • Next steps: The Panel will incorporate into the draft report comments from this meeting as well as additional written comments from Panel members.
March 23, 2021
  • Objective: To engage in a discussion on the specific recommendations in the draft report on border measures.
  • The Panel focused their discussion on testing and quarantine considerations for exempt travellers and vaccinated travellers as well as approaches for surveillance of variants of concern and for quarantine periods.
  • Next steps: The Panel will reconvene for further discussion as it requires additional time to refine its recommendations related to vaccinated travellers.
March 18, 2021
  • Objective: To consider presentations on border measures and to continue developing the Panel's advice to the Minister.
  • Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Dr. Vivek Goel presented to the Panel on the Alberta Border Pilot and the McMaster Border Surveillance Study, respectively.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada provided briefings on the ArriveCAN application and on Canada's evolving border testing and quarantine strategy.
  • The Panel members continued to discuss their preliminary border recommendations, including the desired level of stringency and data relating to quarantine, vaccination and variants of concern.
  • Next steps: The Panel's comments from today's meeting will be incorporated into the draft report and Health Canada will schedule the next meeting for further discussion.
March 11, 2021
  • Objective: To continue briefings with departments responsible for implementing and developing border policies to help inform the development of the Panel's advice to the Minister on border measures.
  • Transport Canada provided a briefing on operational considerations for essential travellers.
  • The Canada Border Services Agency presented a briefing on border measures and implementation considerations for screening at land borders.
  • Next steps: A meeting will be scheduled with the Public Health Agency of Canada to provide additional data and evidence to the Panel.
March 4, 2021
  • Objective: To discuss with the Minister of Health the Panel's preliminary thoughts and reflections on border measures.
  • The Minister provided the Panel with key research questions that she would like explored.
  • The Panel provided preliminary thoughts and noted that the advice will likely change quickly over time as the landscape of the pandemic changes and new information becomes available.
  • The Panel highlighted risks that will emerge including variants of concern and how that will impact border measures.
  • After the meeting with the Minister, the Public Health Agency of Canada provided a technical briefing on technology platforms so that the Panel may situate technological options in their advice and operational considerations.
  • Next steps: A preliminary draft of the Panel report on borders will be circulated for discussion at the next meeting.
March 3, 2021
  • Objective: To discuss preliminary thoughts and reflections on border measures ahead of the Panel's meeting with the Minister of Health.
  • The "Shadow Panel" presented a summary of available data on borders.
  • Panel members discussed their preliminary thoughts for discussion with the Minister. This included a discussion on testing measures, hotel quarantines, exempt travellers, and vaccination status.
  • Next steps: Health Canada to summarize reflections from the meeting and circulate this document to the Panel to support the discussion with the Minister.

February 2021

February 26, 2021
  • Objective: Confirm next steps for the report on testing for schools and frame the Panel's advice regarding immediate, short-term and long-term considerations for testing and quarantine at Canadian borders.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada presented the current approach to preventing the importation of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants into Canada.
  • Panel members discussed preliminary thoughts on potential recommendations for the Minister of Health on border measures.
  • Next steps: Panel members will send their final comments on the draft report on testing for schools. The Panel will also be meeting with the Minister of Health.
February 9, 2021
  • Objective: Discuss the key recommendations and approaches for the draft report on testing and screening in schools.
  • The co-chairs shared feedback from their February 9 meeting with the Minister of Seniors.
  • Panel members discussed their recommendations for the draft report. This included discussions on ensuring equitable access to testing and screening, preventing outbreaks, addressing testing hesitancy in children, reducing time lost in class and the impact on parents/guardians.
  • Next steps: Incorporate member comments into the draft report and circulate a new version of the report for further consultations with experts.
February 5, 2021
  • Objective: Discuss the key recommendations and approaches for the draft report on testing and screening for long-term care homes.
  • Panel members discussed their recommendations for the draft report. This included, screening for staff and visitors, implementation, human resources, and alternative sampling methodology, in addition to economic and administrative considerations.
  • Next steps: Incorporate member comments into the draft report and circulate a new version of the report for further consultations with experts.
February 2, 2021
  • Objective: Structure the guidance for the Panel's upcoming reports on testing and screening in long-term care and schools.
  • The Panel discussed the recommendations listed in the draft long-term care report, including recommendations related to testing and screening approaches, the relationship with the roll-out of vaccines, human resources, and areas for further research.
  • The Panel discussed the recommendations listed in the draft schools report, including equity considerations, recommendations related to testing and screening approaches, sample collection and pooling, human resources, and outbreak considerations.
  • Next steps: The Panel will convene focused discussions on both reports to refine the guidance.

January 2021

January 22, 2021
  • Objective: Discuss the outlines for their upcoming reports on testing and screening in long-term care and schools.
  • Health Canada summarized the media response and interest in the Panel's first report, including highlights from media and social media, and feedback shared through federal, provincial and territorial discussions.
  • The Panel shared their input on the outlines for testing and screening in long-term care and schools, including discussions on mouth rinse and gargle sample collection and the disproportionate impact on long-term care home residents and staff and their families.
  • Next steps: Develop full-length draft reports for testing and screening in long-term care and schools.
January 14, 2021
  • Objective: Prioritize topics for upcoming reports of the Expert Panel.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory presented an overview of Canada's response to COVID-19 variants.
  • The Panel discussed the communications strategy for publication of its first report.
  • The Panel prioritized long-term care and schools as topics for their next reports.
  • Next steps: Develop outlines for the upcoming reports on testing and screening in long-term care and schools.

December 2020

December 18, 2020
  • Objective: Secure consensus views on final issues to be captured in the first report to the Minister.
  • The Co-chairs summarized the December 17, 2020, meeting with the Minister of Health and presented an overview of feedback received to date on the report.
  • The Panel discussed specific elements of the draft report, including testing and human resource strategies, context and equity considerations.
  • Next steps: Integrate Panel comments into the draft report for publication.
December 17, 2020
  • Objective: Bring the Minister of Health up to date on its activities.
  • The Co-chairs gave an overview of the Panel's strategic directions and preliminary findings.
    • The Co-chairs also discussed the path forward for their work.
  • The Minister of Health welcomed the Panel's more concrete findings and recommendations.
  • Next steps: Inform Panel members of the Minister of Health's feedback.
December 11, 2020
  • Objective: Discuss key recommendations and approaches for the draft guidance document.
  • The Co-chairs gave an overview of their meeting with the Technical Advisory Committee.
  • Panel members discussed their recommendations for the draft guidance document.
  • Next steps: Incorporate member comments into the guidance document and send a version to Panel members, the Technical Advisory Committee and the Special Advisory Committee.
December 7, 2020
  • Objective: Continue expert briefings and discuss the outline for the guidance document to the Minister.
  • The Panel merged the 2 working groups due to considerable interest by Panel members in both issues.
  • The National Microbiology Laboratory gave an overview of key issues under consideration among federal, provincial and territorial public health laboratories, as well as an overview of the evidence and use cases for rapid tests.
  • Panel members reviewed and discussed a preliminary outline of the first report to the Minister on testing for diagnosis and testing to support economic activity.
  • Next steps: Continue to work on an updated version of the draft guidance document.
December 2, 2020
  • Objective: Continue expert briefings and work on developing preliminary guidance for testing and screening.
  • Statistics Canada gave a presentation on how it is helping all levels of government with respect to contact tracing surge support.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada shared a presentation of its current and future health data strategy.
  • Panel members emphasized that their current focus should be on immediate pandemic needs, recognizing that longer-term pandemic readiness is an important discussion for consideration at an appropriate time.
  • Next steps: Update the Panel's plan for meetings, topics and deliverables. Panel members to indicate their preference for participation in the 2 priority working groups: testing for diagnosis, or testing to support economic activity.

November 2020

November 30, 2020
  • Objective: Continue expert briefings and discuss status of preparations for the first report to the Minister.
  • The Boston Consulting Group gave an overview of its COVID-19 scenario analysis and planning work.
  • The Co-chairs presented a paper on a proposed path forward and emphasized that advice will be provided to the Minister in a modular context so that provinces and territories can select advice relevant to them.
  • The Co-chairs proposed the establishment of a "Shadow Panel" of doctoral, medical and law students, to undertake rapid analysis, evidence reviews and prepare briefs for consideration by the Panel.
  • Next steps: Panel members to indicate their preference for participation in the 2 priority working groups: testing for diagnosis, or testing and screening to support economic activity.
November 25, 2020
  • Objective: Share Panel members' thoughts with the Minister of Health on the barriers, opportunities and priorities for testing and screening.
  • Co-chairs provided an overview of a draft framework, which will guide the Panel's work over the coming months.
  • The Minister of Health noted the importance of the Panel's advice in informing decision-making and suggested the Panel reflect on considerations across all levels of government.
    • The Minister also invited the Panel to reflect on approaches to protect the most vulnerable populations.
  • Next steps: Build on the draft framework, which will guide the development of a draft report.
November 23, 2020
  • Objective: Co-chairs to gather feedback on the draft framework for the Panel's first report, invite Ex-Officio members to share any contextual feedback and discuss preparations for the upcoming meeting with the Minister of Health.
  • Ex-Officio members spoke about key emerging issues in addition to the support and cross-linkages that could facilitate the work of the Panel.
  • The Co-chairs noted that planning was under way for a meeting with the Boston Consulting Group and the Special Advisory Committee to facilitate provincial and territorial engagement.
  • Next steps: Develop a draft framework, which will include the priorities for testing and screening, that will help to guide the Panel and its upcoming meeting with the Minister.
November 17, 2020
  • Objective: Continue receiving expert briefings to inform Panel advice.
  • Health Canada gave an overview of testing, screening, contact tracing and data management in Canada.
    • Indigenous Services Canada gave an overview of testing and screening from an Indigenous perspective and minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities.
  • The Co-chairs proposed a modular approach to their advice to the Minister of Health.
    • Panel members supported providing targeted guidance within weeks and discussed ensuring the importance of situating advice on testing within the context of the full suite of public health tools and measures.
    • Panel members also stressed the importance of building strategies around the economic engines of Canada.
  • Next steps: Circulate a draft framework to members for feedback.
November 5, 2020
  • Objective: Finalize the terms of reference and begin hearing information to inform the Panel's advice.
  • Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada gave an overview of its work on testing and screening, including collaborations to advance innovation.
    • The National Research Council gave an overview of device assessment and its work with industry to encourage innovation and develop new products.
  • Panel members noted the importance of dialogue focused on assessing and determining the real-world value of new and emerging technologies.
  • Next steps: Develop real-time advice and a national perspective on testing while respecting provincial/territorial jurisdiction and the needs of individual communities.
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