Unused Covid tests worth millions of dollars set to expire: 'Ordered too much'

Australian governments are scrambling to find ways to get use of the RATs.

Millions of dollars worth of Covid-19 tests acquired by Australian governments are soon to expire.

Purchased at the height of the pandemic, states and territories are now exploring ways to avoid the Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) from going to waste, the ABC reported.

More than half a billion RATs were acquired across the country as governments raced to stockpile the tests which were seen as a vital tool for co-existing with the virus.

A man holds a Covid rapid antigen test in his hand.
The use of RAT tests spiked in late 2021 when Australia faced a daunting wave of Covid-19. Source: Getty. file.

"As a contingency, we went and ordered a lot more than we needed... a little too much" Professor of International Health at Curtin University Jaya Dantas told the public broadcaster, adding it was understandable due to how unpredictable the pandemic has been.

Western Australia ordered nearly 40 RATs per resident, while Victoria more than 31 per person.

Two thirds of Queensland's tests unused

But it's Queensland that was worst at distributing its tests, with nearly two thirds of its tests still sat in storage. That means 3,470,000 RATs in the state have either expired or will do so in the next three months, data obtained by the ABC shows.

States and territories have stockpiled the tests and now need to use them up before they expire. Source: ABC
States and territories have stockpiled the tests and now need to use them up before they expire. Source: ABC

Queensland Health said it was "actively managing the expiry risk" of the tests. Options include donating the tests by making them widely available to the public or extending their expiry date in consultation with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Western Australia has more than two million tests soon to expire, with WA Nationals MP Martin Aldridge calling for scrutiny over the mass purchase of 110 million tests.

"I understand the need to move quickly, but to spend $600 million with very little oversight, effectively the Department of Health went on an internet shopping frenzy," he said.

One potential solution put forward is to donate the tests to developing countries however Professor Dantas said there was no emphasis on testing in those countries.

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