Australians will soon be able to test themselves for Covid-19 from the comfort of their own homes. The government approved Covid-19 home-testing kits on Monday, with the final decision now with the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA).
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said 28 types of rapid-antigen tests had been approved, but he gave no indication as to when Aussies could get their hands on them.
While self-testing Covid-19 kits are already in use in aged care homes and some workplaces, there was previously not enough support from state health officers to implement them for private use.
Hunt told 2GB’s Ray Hadley on Monday that he believed the kits would be approved “within the coming months, if not weeks” but refused to be drawn on questions about exact dates and whether it would be before extra freedoms were provided to fully vaccinated Australians.
“I’ll never pre-empt their (the TGA’s) approvals,” he said.
The massive shake up will revolutionise Australia’s Covid-19 testing practices, with long lines at testing hubs and wait time on results expected to be drastically reduced.
There are many companies making Covid-19 home testing kids, including Brisbane-based bio-tech firm Ellume, which struck a $302 million deal to supply home-testing kits to the US when case numbers spiked there earlier in the air. It’s not clear which companies will supply the kits to Australians.
At-home testing kits are far less invasive than the swab testing administered by medical professionals and are far easier to administer to young children. Ellume’s kit delivers test results in just 15 minutes and is suitable for ages 2 and upwards.
Like many home-testing kits, Ellume’s is connected to an app that users can download to their smartphones. The app provides step-by-step instructions to perform the test and includes a self-collected mid-turbinate swab. The sample is analysed and results are automatically transmitted to the user’s smartphone via Bluetooth.
Other home-testing kits require users to send their swabs to a laboratory for testing. Results are typically returned within a week.
News of the testing shake up comes after the TGA approved the Moderna vaccine for children aged 12-17. The first doses of the Moderna vaccine are set to arrive in Australia next week and will be available in pharmacies from September 20, Hunt announced on Sunday night.
“Provisional approval for use in the 12-17 years age group has been made following careful evaluation of the available data supporting safety and efficacy,” the TGA said in a statement.
“The vaccine has also received regulatory approval or authorisation in this age group in several jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and Switzerland.”
The TGA said the Moderna vaccine has shown “strong efficacy preventing symptomatic COVID-19 and severe COVID-19 in clinical trials”.
Australia is currently chasing its 80 per cent vaccination target to reopen the country and end lockdowns once and for all. Currently 30.5 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated.