Skip to main content

B.C. doctors slam 'deceptive' LifeLabs marketing for 'long-COVID testing”

Canada’s biggest testing and diagnostics company is offering “various diagnostic tests” for long COVID to British Columbians, even though the national health agency clearly states the condition isn’t detectible via testing.

A section of the LifeLabs website titled “long COVID testing” suggests people with post-infection symptoms bring a guide to their doctor to order an array of tests, which the company indicates are almost all covered by the provincial Medical Services Plan. 

“The use of various diagnostic tests for long COVID should be considered for patients with ongoing symptoms associated with long COVID to assess for conditions that may respond to treatment,” reads the LifeLabs website, which says blood and urine are required for the tests, which include blood count, liver and thyroid function, and vitamin deficiencies.

The Public Health Agency of Canada, however, is clear that “there are currently no diagnostic tests or treatments for post-COVID-19 condition.”

In the first year of the pandemic, the province paid LifeLabs $11.1 million dollars to process PCR tests, which indicated a lab-confirmed COVID-19 infection. The Ministry of Health told CTV News it stopped contracting them in the spring of 2021 when “public testing capacity was determined to be sufficient.”


The president of Doctors of BC agrees with the national public health agency, and pointed out the testing recommended is so broad – it’s essentially useless.

“What they're suggesting is very, very all-inclusive and not necessarily a diagnostic for anything, including long COVID,” said Dr. Josh Greggain. “The long list of symptoms they've suggested for things like memory loss and fatigue, low energy, could be a number of things and those are definitely best done in collaboration with a healthcare provider to do a history and physical exam and appropriate laboratory testing.”

Other physicians CTV News has asked about the LifeLabs offering expressed similar concerns, even describing it as deceptive advertising since lingering post-infection symptoms of COVID-19 can’t be determined by a simple test, and managing those symptoms is an ongoing issue for our health-care system.


Long COVID, or post-COVID-19 condition, as it’s also called, refers to symptoms that last for months or years after the initial viral infection, and PHAC notes there have been some 100 symptoms reported in association with it. The most common are fatigue, shortness of breathe, brain fog, anxiety or depression, and general pain or discomfort.

B.C. had initially established several long COVID clinics for patients seeking treatment but they have since scaled them back, with some patients now paying private clinics for various treatment offerings. Last fall, research in the Canadian Medical Association Journal indicated long haulers are going to hospital, adding strain to a health-care system that’s struggling to function.

LifeLabs suggests patients print an online fact sheet to take to their doctor, urging them to “have a discussion with your healthcare provider about whether certain tests, like a Vitamin D test, are right for you.”

CTV News has asked LifeLabs to address the disparity between their messaging and the consensus of the medical community and public health sources. They have not yet responded to our request.

“I hope they will absolutely reconsider (their marketing),” said Greggain. Top Stories

Stay Connected