The days of having someone tickle your brain with a stick are coming to an end. Now, you can pay for the luxury of an at-home lobotomy with the release of new rapid antigen tests in Aussie supermarkets.
Rapid antigen tests are designed to provide a positive or negative diagnosis of a COVID-19 infection in just 15 minutes, however they are thought to be less reliable than the PCR tests conducted at COVID testing clinics.
They were approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration on 15 October for the general public. 33 other COVID tests have already been declared safe to use by the TGA for medical professionals, but this will be the first time that people will be able to test themselves.
PRC tests are, however, a real inconvenience, as many of us will have discovered, and involve travel to and from the clinic, isolating post-test, and of course the thrilling experience of someone inserting a plastic stick where no stick should ever be inserted.
Still, it’s another one of the little necessary joys that COVID has brought us and the broad availability of easy, at home testing is part of the government’s four-phase lockdown roadmap.
Using the tests ought to give us a quick and easy way of knowing if we’ve got COVID or we’ve just drunk a little bit more than we ought to have done last night.
There are no restrictions on where the tests can be sold, meaning your local chemist, corner shop, or petrol station could be stocking them soon.
However, as the tests are not 100% accurate, the TGA is recommending that anyone who tests positive should also submit for a PCR test as soon as possible.
Already, rapid antigen tests are being used by medical services across NSW and VIC. Employers such as Westpac and Commonwealth Bank are also using them in their offices for staff who wish to confirm that they don’t have the virus.
However, David Anderson of the Burnet Institute has said that they are not a silver bullet for controlling the spread of COVID.
Even if you do the test properly it will miss people and it can give a false sense of security,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“You feel sick, but you do a rapid antigen test but you don’t swab your nose properly and you think everything is fine until you go about your daily business and expose lots of other people.”
Woolworths has said that the kits are available to pre-order online now.