How Aussies will soon be able to test themselves for FOUR different diseases with a simple rapid antigen test – as companies fight to get their home kit first into pharmacies
- Two strains of flu and RSV can be tested for new RATs in addition to Covid
- There are several companies trying to get the new tests on Australian shelves
- But they still need approval from the TGA with no concrete availability estimate
Australians will soon be able to test themselves for four different viruses using the same kind of rapid antigen testing we’ve all become very familiar with during the Covid pandemic.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is considering approving the four-in-one tests that will test for coronavirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and two different types of flu with multiple applications already submitted by companies selling their kit in the want shelves first.
The tests are already available in some overseas countries.
The process is similar to the existing rapid antigen tests where a nasal swab is taken, mixed with a liquid and dropped onto a test strip – only the new versions have four drip spaces for the different tests.
President Trent Twomey of the Pharmacies Guild of Australia told 2GB that if the TGA passed the four-in-one tests, Australia would be among a select few countries leading the way.
The new version RATs will have four slots where drops of the same monster will be placed
“The rapid antigen tests help the system cope and prevent it from becoming overloaded, as happened with Covid,” he said.
“They’re more than 80 percent accurate — so they’re effective, it’s just not the more than 90 percent accuracy you get with pathology-based tests.”
“Not only would it be cheaper than a pathology test, but it will also be faster and easier than going to a lab.”
The tests cost less than $10 in other countries, and prices in Australia are likely to be similar.
Health authorities generally recommend repeat RATs to increase the accuracy of their results from confirmation with a follow-up PCR test.
The rapid antigen tests require a nasal swab, but can be done at home (photo: one sample will be taken in 2021)
The RAT modernization comes a month after Health Minister Mark Butler announced an update to Australai’s Covid management plan.
From January 1, Australians needed a referral to get a PCR test from January 1, marking a major shift in how the country is handling Covid-19.
Mr Butler said Australia was changing the way it deals with coronavirus in 2023 and would move to managing Covid-19 in a ‘similar way’ to other respiratory viruses, moving away from bespoke arrangements.
Low-risk individuals who test positive for a RAT are advised to stay home whenever possible and avoid high-risk environments.
Low-risk individuals who live or work with high-risk people, particularly for Covid-19, may be referred if their symptoms persist even after a negative RAT.
High-risk individuals are prioritized for PCR testing.
Those considered to be at high risk under the new plan include older Australians, First Nations people, people with disabilities, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people living in remote communities, people with complex underlying health conditions and immunocompromised.
Access to antivirals will still be available to eligible people after a positive test – either by RAT or PCR.