Rapid antigen tests available now, ATAGI approves boosters

By Lauren Davis
Monday, 01 November, 2021

Rapid antigen tests available now, ATAGI approves boosters

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) last week confirmed that it has approved a total of nine COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RATs, or home use tests) for supply in Australia from today, 1 November 2021. The full list of approved tests can be found on the TGA’s website, along with instructions on how to use each test.

RATs are much faster than standard PCR tests, providing a result in as little as 15–30 min, but they are also less accurate. For this reason, it is recommended that they are only used if you want to quickly check if you may have COVID-19, if you have symptoms but cannot access a PCR test, or as part of an established surveillance program such as one organised by your employer. If you test positive from a RAT, you must isolate, get tested with a PCR test and stay isolated until you receive your results.

Available as either a saliva test or a nasal swab, the test kits will be sold at supermarkets, pharmacies and other online and in-store suppliers. In a statement, Woolworths said the kits would be available in selected stores for between $10 and $15 per test, while a Coles spokesperson said the tests would initially be stocked in all states except South Australia and Western Australia.

The availability of RATs comes just one week before the nationwide rollout of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots, which will be available from 8 November to all Australian adults (18+) who have received two doses at least six months ago. Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt confirmed the news following advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the TGA.

Hunt said the Australian Government has accepted ATAGI’s advice that the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine is recommended for the booster dose, irrespective of the primary COVID-19 vaccine used, though Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) can be used in some situations; the government will also consider the possibility of other vaccines being used if successful applications are submitted to the TGA, and pending advice from ATAGI. He noted that the booster shot is not mandatory, but that it does provide further protection against the worst effects of COVID-19.

Those first eligible for a booster will be people in high-priority groups who were prioritised early in the rollout of the vaccine program, who are incidentally considered by ATAGI the most likely to benefit. They includes Australians aged 50 and over, residents of aged- and disability-care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians, and people at increased occupational risk of COVID-19.

Australians will be able to book and receive their booster doses for free from 8 November.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Robert Kneschke

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