Consumers will soon be able to test themselves for Covid-19 while doing their weekly grocery shopping or buy a test to have handy when they need one, as major Australian supermarkets begin stocking rapid antigen tests from November 1.
Coles supermarkets will be the first to stock the Hough Pharma Nasal Tests, which provide results in 15 minutes, in 700 stores nationwide. Victoria and New South Wales’ stores will be the first to provide the tests as they manage current outbreaks.
The Chinese manufactured test will be available in-store and online and will come in packs of two to five. The test kit will allow consumers to swab their nose and throat and deliver results to the user in the comfort of their home. The kits are expected to be sold for between $10 and $30.
Users who return a positive test result will still be required to visit a testing clinic to confirm the result.
A Woolworths spokesperson told The Australian the supermarket retailers will also stock the rapid result tests after a trial in four of the retailer’s distribution sites in Sydney was a success.
“We’re now looking to stock at-home self-test kits, which have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, in selected stores from early November,” the spokesperson said.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has previously highlighted the importance of at-home testing in relation to Australia’s re-opening plan.
“This is an important additional protection for Australians, home testing to support Australians and to support the national plan,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also previously commented on the importance of rapid antigen testing and its introduction into the national re-opening plan.
“Rapid antigen testing has a very important role to play. There’s no doubt about that,” he said.
“Particularly when we get into Phase B and Phase C, when we’re moving from managing cases and moving to managing hospitalisations, serious illness and things of that nature.”
The accuracy of rapid antigen testing has come into question recently when compared to the the widely used polymerase chain reaction test (PCR).
The World Health Organisation‘s (WHO) Dr Hanan Balkhy recently compared the two testing options and commented on their accuracy in a WHO podcast.
“The PCR testing are the most sensitive ones. And those, to complete the testing process, they need to be done in quite a sophisticated laboratory setting. And, that’s why the turnaround time for these tests can take several days,” she said.
“The antigen testing that exists now in the market are what we call the antigen rapid diagnostic tests. Those look for the antigen on the outer surface of the virus itself.
“They are not as accurate as the PCR testing, but they have a very important value as one of the tools to address the COVID pandemic.”
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved rapid antigen Covid-19 tests for home use from November 1.