Massive change coming to Covid testing in Australia

·2-min read

Australia is on track to allow rapid home coronavirus tests but a timeline remains uncertain despite widespread use around the world.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is weighing making rapid antigen tests - which return results in as little as 15 minutes - available in more settings.

While there are 28 tests approved for use, a number of conditions including supervision and location mean the method is largely restricted to a handful of workplaces.

Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt discusses the Government's plan to 'live with the virus' during a press conference at Parliament House.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said Australians can expect rapid Covid testing in the near future. Source: Getty Images

Health Minister Greg Hunt is confident the medicines regulator will sign off on home tests in coming weeks or months.

"This is absolutely where the nation's heading," he told 2GB radio on Monday.

"We'll have not just the workplace tests, not just the PCR tests - the ones where you go to the clinics - but the home tests are on the way."

Home testing kits are being used in the United Kingdom, United States and Europe.

A health worker takes a swab sample at a Covid-19 coronavirus drive through testing site in the Smithfield suburb of Sydney.
A Smithfield resident receives a Covid test from their car in Sydney. Source: Getty Images

TGA boss John Skerritt last week told a Senate committee rapid antigen tests were less reliable than PCR and worked more effectively when coronavirus was more common.

Professor Skerritt also said new instructions were needed for the tests to make them understandable for people without training.

Mr Hunt said the TGA was examining how rapid testing could be used without the supervision of a health worker.

"They're being used in workplaces in aged care elsewhere and then the next frontier is to move for approval on the home front," he said.

He said while some state chief health officers were not supportive, there was now momentum to allow home tests.

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