Rapid Antigen Tests Should Be Free, But They’re Selling Out & Creating An Accessibility Divide

rapid antigen tests

Chances are by now you’ve heard about a handy thing called a rapid antigen test, more affectionately known as a RAT. But what you might not have heard is how they’re the latest fuck-up in the mighty long list of Morrison government failures, speaking of rats.

According to the Daily Mail, Chemist Warehouse and Priceline have sold out of rapid antigen tests in multiple stores across the country, including online. Basically, they’re more sought after than toilet paper circa 2020.

This inaccessibility, combined with the fact that a pack of five tests costs $50, means that the wealthy among us are granted a privileged position, while the rest of us have to fight for vital pieces of equipment that should be free.

https://twitter.com/thejimmalo/status/1472367355061686275?s=20

We’ve seen this country divided into two halves with the military response to the western Sydney cases earlier this year, while the affluent north was able to access the beaches close to their homes and relax.

Hell, there were even think pieces released about how those of us from western Sydney were leading the anti-vax movement because we can’t think for ourselves.

Now, as we approach 2022, it looks like nothing has changed, with separations being formed between those of us with money to spare, and the average person. Accessibility to scarce rapid antigen tests has a price attached to it, and it isn’t exactly cheap.

New Zealand and Singapore are but two nations that are routinely giving out free face masks and rapid antigen tests, which is ultimately how it should be in Australia as well.

The rapid antigen tests are outlawed in South Australia, while in Western Australia there’s a legislative disaster around getting them into pharmacies.

In other states like NSW and Victoria, on the other hand, residents have to fork out money for the tests. While they’re not as accurate as PCR tests, at-home RATs can be vital tools in reducing the spread of COVID-19 as we all head out for Christmas shenanigans — as well as reducing the pressure on COVID clinics during times of record testing turnouts.

People are trying to do the right thing here, but the right thing has a cost attached.

“All of a sudden we have got the highest number we have had in NSW and I think this is sadly heralding a fourth wave,” Infectious Disease Expert Mary-Louise McClaws told the Nine Network.

McClaws is but one of many experts who is pushing for rapid antigen tests to be free in Australia, as it will only really benefit *checks notes* every single one of us.

“We really do have to be careful because what we have learnt from the England experience when Delta happened (was) all of a sudden children became the target for the virus and this is exactly what is happening again.”

But hey, at least folks online are rallying behind the idea of free RATs for all, now we just have to get over the small hindrance that is accessibility.

In the meantime, I guess we can just read some memes and cry?

Make rapid antigen tests free, heavily subsidise them, or stop encouraging us to fight each other over a limited supply with a price that many of us cannot manage.

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