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(Australian Associated Press)
Australians will be able to self-test for coronavirus at home from November provided a series of hurdles are cleared.
Therapeutic Goods Administration boss John Skerritt is confident rapid antigen tests will be available in homes from November 1.
While no company has a kit ready for the Australian market, he believes several stars will align before the date announced on Tuesday.
Professor Skerritt said all tests granted approval for home use needed to be tested against the Delta variant.
“It does seem that some of the tests – and I don’t want to name particular products, but some of them are quite significant products – are much less sensitive against Delta,” he told a Senate committee.
The TGA also needs all test manufacturers to ensure instructions are suitable for about a year-seven level of reading or people for whom English is a second language.
Packaging must include a 1800-number to ring for advice on results or other issues with rapid antigen tests.
“We are still confident, because we’ve been holding hands with some of the most advanced companies for a few weeks, that by November 1 there will be products available,” Professor Skerritt said.
Home rapid antigen tests, which can return results in 20 minutes, have been used overseas for months.
But Australian authorities have been cautious in expanding use beyond selected workplaces because of concerns around accuracy compared to nose and throat swabs.
The TGA’s November 1 approval date has been chosen to allow legal changes, as well as factoring in higher vaccination rates and disease as Australia opens up.
State and territory governments would have the power to compel people who test positive at home to get a PCR test.
Health Minister Greg Hunt is confident some of the more than 30 tests already approved to be used under supervision will be converted to meet the conditions for home use.
“This is an important additional protection for Australians,” he told reporters.
“One of the important things is that we can supplement what is known as PCR testing – the testing that we all know if we go to a Commonwealth or a state clinic – with the home testing.”