Australia’s drugs regulator has approved four rapid antigen Covid-19 tests for distribution throughout the country with health workers and departments among the first to use the tests than can deliver results in 15 minutes.
The Australian pathology and pharmaceutical companies approved to import and distribute the tests are required to provide the Therapeutic Goods Administration with data about the efficacy of the tests over time. Supply of the tests will be limited to accredited laboratories, medical practitioners, healthcare professionals in residential or aged care facilities, and to government health departments.
Rapid antigen tests detect the presence of viral protein from Covid-19 and may be used to diagnose the virus in a patient with symptoms. They work best in the first week of infection – after that antigens tend to drop.
“This test will be useful in settings where speed is paramount,” Thacker said. “If you can test someone quickly before they go on-site to their workplace, and can do that regularly, you may avoid the massive shutdowns of workplaces that we have seen in some industries.”
In late August, the White House announced the US had struck a deal with US pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories to acquire 150m tests, deploying them to nursing homes and schools. But Williamson said it was important to monitor use of the tests in Australia and not to extrapolate data from US and other studies of the tests.
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