At-home rapid COVID tests approved for use in Australia

Australia’s medical regulator has approved the nation’s first rapid at-home tests for COVID, with the saliva and nasal swab kits to deliver results in just 15 minutes.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration gave a tick to three brands of rapid antigen tests on Thursday, paving the way for Australians to begin self-administering COVID screenings at home.

Similar test kits have been used across the US, Europe and Asia for many months.

Rapid antigen tests have the benefit of being much faster and less invasive than a standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, but are slightly less accurate.

The three tests, all from Hangzhou Alltest Biotech and sponsored by Australian company AM Diagnostics, all return results within 15 minutes.

Two require oral fluid or saliva to be mixed with a liquid “buffer”, with two drops of the combined fluid then added to a test strip.

The third requires a nasal swab to be scraped inside both nostrils, before being added to a tube of solution. That liquid is then added to a test strip.

The TGA’s guidance for all three tests said a positive test meant a person was “very likely” positive to COVID, and must immediately self-isolate and contact medical authorities in line with state or territory rules.

A negative test result means a person is “unlikely to have COVID”, but the TGA warns “it is possible for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect (a false negative)”.

Anyone who has a negative result while experiencing symptoms of COVID – such as loss of smell or headaches – is urged to seek medical advice or take another rapid test after one to two days.

-more to come

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