How Australians can FINALLY do a Covid test in their own homes, like most of the world – and get results in just 20 minutes
- Rapid antigen testing available for home use in Australia from November 1
- The kits are a much faster way to test for Covid than traditional PCR testing
- The test can be taken by yourself and the results are returned in about 20 minutes
Australians can finally take a Covid test on their own without leaving their home, with results in just 20 minutes.
Rapid antigen tests – which can be done themselves and have been used in many other countries since the beginning of the year – will be available in Australia from November 1.
Current PCR tests require a medical professional to administer them, resulting in long queues of hundreds of meters at test centers across the country, with the results processed in labs.
The rapid antigen tests (pictured) provide a much faster way to test for Covid than traditional PCR tests
The tests have been used in other countries for months, but the introduction in Australia was delayed until vaccination rates increased (file image)
But that will no longer be the case, nor will there be days in quarantine waiting for a negative test that confirmed the result within half an hour.
The specific versions of the rapid antigen test kits have yet to be approved for use by the consumer health watchdog, the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
TGA chief professor John Skerrit said they were working with state and territory leaders to quickly get the tests approved for use and a review of the data was underway.
“It is expected that 70 per cent of Australians across the country will be double vaccinated, bringing Phase B of the national plan into effect at the end of October,” he said. The Daily Telegraph.
“That is why there will be a new regulation… which will allow the sale and use of home tests after November 1, 2021.”
The test was previously available in Australia, but on the condition that they be administered by a health professional.
Abroad, the kits, which look like pregnancy tests, have been in use for many months to help with returning to work safely and traveling abroad.
The tests in Britain are so readily available that people have started using them before visiting elderly relatives or going out for a night out.
The 20-minute tests are do-it-yourself, eliminating queues at test centers (Photo: Albert Park test center in Melbourne in July)
On Monday, Professor Skerrit said the government had deliberately delayed testing in Australia until vaccination rates were higher.
He said the likelihood of false negatives or people hiding test results was less critical when most of the population was vaccinated.
“If you’re on a plane full of people going on holiday to Cairns, and someone has lied about or concealed a positive rapid antigen test, it’s less of a problem if 80 percent of the people on that plane have been vaccinated.” ,’ he said.
The rapid antigen tests are less accurate than the PCR tests, with some experts warning of false results.
The tests require a nasal swab which is then inserted into the test device (pictured)
WHAT ARE PCR AND RAPID ANTIGEN TESTS?
Rapid antigen testing:
Detect proteins on the surface of a virus called antigens.
A nasal swab is collected, placed in a chemical solution, and then placed on a piece of reactive paper on which a result is displayed.
They take about 20 minutes to show the result.
They are very inexpensive and easy to make without the need for expensive lab equipment.
The tests cost less than $10.
Stands for polymerase chain reaction. Detects the DNA of a virus.
A nasal swab is collected, placed in a sealed tube, and sent to a lab.
A scientist then isolates RNA from the sample and uses chemicals, enzymes and a machine called a thermal cycler to replicate the sample in the test tube.
Once there is enough of the sample in the tube, in the presence of Covid, a response is produced that picks up software in the machine.
They are extremely accurate tests, but require labs and trained technicians.
The test takes about two hours, but the labs are often supported with tests to be performed.
They cost about $150 per test.
Last November, Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc, claimed that he tested positive twice and then negative twice, all on the same day.
Tested four times today for Covid. Two tests were negative, two were positive,” Musk wrote.
‘Same machine, same test, same nurse. BD rapid antigen test,” he said in a tweet, referring to Becton Dickinson and Co.’s rapid antigen test.
When asked by a Twitter user if he was showing symptoms, Musk said he had symptoms of a “typical cold.”
“Nothing out of the ordinary so far,” Musk added.
Professor Sanjaya Senanayake of the Australian National University said on Monday that this could be resolved through regular testing, although PCR testing still needs to be preserved for some high-risk areas.
Waiting at test centers or in quarantine while the PCR result takes days to complete will no longer be a problem from November 1 (Photo: A drive-through test center in Bondi in June)