Long wait times in line at Covid clinics, delayed test results and sold-out rapid tests are being described as a "mess" and an oversight in Australia's roadmap out of Covid.
Trent Twomey, the president of the National Pharmacy Guild and a pharmacist in Cairns said factoring in rapid antigen tests should have been part of the roadmap as soon as 80 per cent of the eligible vaccination had received two doses of a vaccine.
"The roadmap was so fixated on vaccine levels, that it just omitted and didn't address the testing regime," he told ABC Radio on Monday.
Mr Twomey said states and territories have their own stockpile of RATs that can't be handed out to consumers because they don't have to right packaging or instructions, but it's the RATs available for consumers that are in short supply.
"This is where we've just completely and utterly sold out everywhere," he said. "It's not just pharmacies, it's Coles, it's the Woolies, it's the servos."
Rapid antigen testing not included in national roadmap
According to Mr Twomey, "the only way out of Covid" is for everyone to eventually contract the virus, but border closures and restrictions are certain measures to make sure everyone doesn't get it all at once.
"The reason we've been doing this suppression tactic, closing state borders and restrictions on movement of people is that we needed to get everyone protected," he explained.
"But now that the vaccination rates are at those levels — as suggested by the Doherty Institute — now we're relaxing all that and letting the virus move around."
"If you can go from, you know, 400,000 people that have had Covid to 26 million people that have had Covid; surely you're going to need more testing," he pointed out.
"Why did the roadmap only fixate on vaccines?
"And why didn't they [think] everyone's going to want to get tested? Because everyone's going to get Covid," he said.
"We should have ordered enough stock."
Federal approach to testing labelled a 'total mess'
Health Program Director at the Grattan Institute, Stephen Duckett, described the lack of rapid tests available as a "total mess."
In a tweet, he argued the federal government was late to approve RATs and state governments didn't "adequately" think about how they would be needed.
"1. Commonwealth govt (TGA) was late to approve 2. Commonwealth & states were late to think about how RATs should fit into a public health screening or testing regime, and still haven't done that adequately in my view," he said.
The position with RATs is a total mess:
1. Commonwealth govt (TGA) was late to approve
2. Commonwealth & states were late to think about how RATs should fit into a public health screening or testing regime, and still haven't done that adequately in my view
— Stephen Duckett (@stephenjduckett) January 2, 2022
He continued saying the commonwealth government "determined it to be a private market opportunity, not a universal public health measure" adding they didn't ensure adequate supply, unlike other countries.
"[Commonwealth] govt did not put in place a results-recording regime," he continued. "In contrast English NHS has been using RATs since April in a systematic way."
Former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd also sounded off on Twitter, saying Scott Morrison was "RATf*cking Australians" by not ordering and subsidising RATs on a large scale.
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