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Calls for a national approach for the use of rapid antigen tests

Illustration picture shows a woman receiving and unboxing a postal package with FlowFlex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Tests for self-testing. Source: PHILIPPE FRANCOIS/Belga/Sipa USA

The push to use rapid tests is gaining pace as PCR testing sites are overwhelmed. People are being forced to wait for hours on foot or in their cars, or to simply drive away without ever getting to the testing window.

Thousands of rapid antigen tests are disappearing off the shelves as soon as they are delivered.

PCR swabs are often referred to as the 'gold standard' for testing, but according to the British Medical Journal, rapid tests are still very effective.

The Australian Medical Association's Vice President Doctor Chris Moy  says the main issue now is the process is taking far too long. 

"PCR testing is a for a non covid environment where you can't afford a miss because you want to stop every single case and stop any outbreaks at all. Rapid antigen tests are using the convenience and trying to make sure that people are infectious know it before they go and spread it around. The game has changed completely and now unfortunately PCR testing is becoming far less useful. It's taking too long to get a test and too long to get results now, so it has become very problematic in terms of its usefulness."

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison:

"So where a RAT test would now be required rather than a PCR test, state governments as always, responsible for securing those RAT tests, providing them to people directly, and we will share the costs of those, 50/50, with the state government."

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SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at https://www.sbs.com.au/language/coronavirus

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