Get ready to swab thine own nussy, because at-home COVID tests are set to be available for Aussies by November.
Per the ABC, the rapid antigen tests that are currently being used all over Europe and the US are expected to land in Australia before summer, pending approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). Ever wanted to be able to tickle your own brain without having to wait in a line for hours on end? Soon you’ll be able to do it in the privacy of your own home, you perve.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said individual at-home test kits will be available in Australia from November 1 if approved by the TGA, but will not replace the current PCR tests we’ve been getting at clinics and COVID testing sites for the last 18 months.
“At this stage it would be something that people acquired – unless it was in a workplace arrangement – from their pharmacy,” he said.
The Chair of Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of South Australia, Professor Adrian Esterman, explained how antigen testing works “almost the opposite” as PCR tests, and are ideal for places like airports, schools, and transport hubs, where accurate testing isn’t as important.
“They work by looking for proteins called antigens on the surface of the virus,” he said.
“They come in a test kit, a bit like the ones used for pregnancy, have results available in about 15 minutes, and are inexpensive.
“With respect to accuracy, they are not as good as the PCR test, and tend to produce more false positives and false negatives, especially when there is not much COVID about. However, if someone has a positive rapid antigen test result, then they should immediately go for a PCR test. Rapid antigen tests work best when there is a high viral load, that is in the first two to three days before symptoms develop, and in the first week after symptoms.”
That’s the main catch with doing a rapid antigen test at home – the DIY tests might be far faster with results, but they’re definitely not as accurate as the ones you get at the testing clinic or hospital.
The introduction of the at-home tests could be a real gamechanger for quarantine, especially if Australia is looking to move towards allowing international arrivals and travellers completing quarantine at home instead of in hotels.