Wagga pharmacies will soon be able to stock rapid antigen COVID tests, after they were approved for personal use from next month.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved at-home rapid antigen testing from November 1, with eight different brands currently listed as approved on their website.
The at-home testing has the ability to test for COVID-19 and provide results within 20 minutes, but is less reliable than PCR testing - the form of testing currently used across the country.
Rapid antigen testing is already common in the United States and across Europe, and has been used in Australia primarily in outbreak settings and surveillance testing programs.
The TGA website states that the prevalence of COVID-19 is low in Australia compared to other countries, and that this - coupled with the less than 100 per cent specificity of rapid antigen tests - will result in some false negative and false positive results.
These "shortcomings" can be compensated by using rapid antigen tests every few days, and ensuring people who test positive are also tested using a PCR test, the TGA recommends.
The Murrumbidgee Local Health District's executive director of medical services, Dr Len Bruce, said the health district doesn't offer rapid antigen testing - aside from at the mental health unit for inpatients.
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He said that PCR tests are the "gold standard" and are able to detect smaller amounts of the virus, whilst rapid antigen tests detect parts of a genetic code.
Dr Bruce said PCR testing is the "most sensitive" and would "very rarely" return a false positive.
He added that rapid antigen testing does have a purpose, however, mainly in outbreak settings, with surveillance testing conducted every few days, and with people who are already symptomatic.
"It works quite well in people who have symptoms, but in patients that don't have any symptoms at all, it only picks up about 50 per cent of the patients with COVID, while a PCR test will detected 90 per cent," Dr Bruce said.
Pharmacist Luke van der Rijt at Southcity pharmacy in Wagga said that Wagga pharmacies will be able to stock rapid antigen testing from next month.
All of the details are being finalised, however it's predicted the testing kits will cost between $15 and $20.
He said the most appropriate use of rapid antigen testing is for surveillance testing and for those without symptoms, and people who have COVID-19 symptoms are recommended to get a "comprehensive" PCR test.
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