ABC News Report: Testing yourself for COVID-19 at home has been a common practice for some parts of the world throughout the pandemic.
Now Australians will be able to use rapid antigen tests from November 1 after the test kits were approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Here’s what you need to know.
What is a rapid antigen test?
A rapid antigen test is a COVID-19 test you can do at home, on yourself, that will tell you whether or not you have the virus.
It’s done the same way as the PCR test at a clinic — yes, you still have to stick the swab up your nose.
But instead of waiting a day or more in isolation, the results come back within 20 to 30 minutes depending on the test.
To get the result, you just add the nasal swab to a chemical solution and put that solution onto a reactive strip of paper or device, similar to a pregnancy test.
The paper or device will then show you whether the test was done properly and if you have COVID-19.
Can you use a rapid antigen test on a child?
Some rapid antigen tests can be used on children aged 2 or older.
Tests instruct that children of a certain age should be tested by a parent or guardian.
Where can you buy a rapid antigen test?
You cannot currently buy a rapid antigen test in Australia for at-home use.
However, Australians will be able to buy the tests to use on themselves from November 1.
It is not yet known where at-home tests will be sold in Australia, however, overseas the rapid antigen test are sold in pharmacies and supermarkets.
At the moment in Australia, home tests can only be used under direct supervision from a qualified health professional.
The TGA has approved 33 rapid tests for use under supervision, and health minister Greg Hunt says those suppliers are welcome to apply for at-home use.
Further rules will be determined by state and territory governments.
How much does a rapid antigen cost?
While it’s free for any person to get a PCR test for COVID-19 at a clinic, it is not yet known how much an at-home rapid antigen test will cost.
However, rapid antigen tests are sold in other countries for a relatively low price.
In Singapore, rapid antigen tests cost as little at $10 and the government recently gave all households packs of home testing kits free of charge.
In the United Kingdom, a test can cost between 25 to 60 British pounds ($40 to $110) whereas in the US tests are priced as low as $US25 ($35).
In both the UK and US, you can buy a single test or a batch, and tests come with additional at-cost services such as an online consultation with a doctor.
How long do rapid antigen test results take?
You can get the results of a rapid antigen test within 30 minutes.
However, these tests are not as accurate as the PCR tests carried out by clinics, hospitals and GPs and checked in a laboratory.
Australian health authorities have previously been reluctant to use rapid antigen test because Australia was trying to eliminate COVID from the community and there was very little tolerance for the occasional false positive.