QTA doubles down on Covid rapid testing solution


Home kits would ease testing requirement roadblock: Mahon

QTA doubles down on Covid rapid testing solution
Gary Mahon

 

The Queensland Trucking Association (QTA) has asked federal and state governments to allow the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to evaluate Covid-19 self-test kits, as part of broader calls for a re-think on Australia’s pandemic response.

Currently Australia relies exclusively on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for Covid-19, which has seen extensive queuing and wait times of between 40 to 160 hours on average for test results.

Thus QTA, with the backing of other transport industry associations around Australia, it said, is strongly advocating for the rapid antigen testing – or self-test home kit – alternative. 

These can be used by people with and without symptoms, giving a result in 15 minutes with a claimed 96% accuracy, according to QTA. 

"With the continuing intrusive lockdowns and mandatory testing requirements to cross borders, these demands are placing an extraordinary level of stress on our supply chains and in particular, truck drivers," QTA CEO Gary Mahon said.

"In amongst all these ever-changing requirements, one thing that remains consistent, is the need to have essential goods and services delivered into communities via the road freight industry.

"There is every indication that the onerous mandatory testing requirements (every three days or maximum every seven days) are going to continue for some significant time, likely for at least the next 12-18 months.  

"Authorities are unlikely to be able to sustain the reliance on PCR testing for the next 18 months with mandatory testing being enforced." 


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The rapid-test alternative would reduce the pressure on the health system, reduce current queuing times and provide a simple and efficient alternative for truck drivers to comply with mandatory testing requirements, QTA added. 

Mahon also proposes a PCR test at 14 days could complement the above approach to take a ‘belt and braces’ approach to infection risk.

"In the normal course of their job, truck drivers are able to keep isolated in their vehicle and have little or no contact with people at delivery sites," Mahon said.

"To comply with mandatory testing requirements, currently they have to enter testing locations with symptomatic people which exposes them to unnecessary risks." 

Mahon used the example of Brisbane-based Ellume Health’s home Covid-19 self-test kits being currently approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) but federal laws prevent such home Covid tests being sold in Australia. 

"Truck drivers keep Australia moving and our tests would be perfect to help ensure the industry maintains its excellent Covid record," Ellume CEO and founder Dr Sean Parsons said.

"In a changed world, we need to adopt more convenient Covid-19 testing solutions that will provide all workplaces undertaking high volume testing, a flexible and efficient alternative that does not require them to interact with symptomatic people," Mahon added.

"This is particularly important for truck drivers whose workplace is on the road and cannot easily find accessible testing clinics and hospital facilities. 

"The road freight industry continues to perform an essential front-line role and is critical in keeping supply chains flowing to ensure our communities remain open and our supermarkets are fully stocked."

QTA reiterates We need an ‘eyes wide open’ approach and solutions that will ensure the road freight industry can continue to service business and communities around the country.

"We need a roadmap out of costly and devastating lockdowns so that businesses and communities can achieve a sustainable new normal for industry in this country."

 

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