Domestic rapid antigen and at-home testing manufacturers have not been engaged with by the federal government, despite numerous calls for the kits to be offered once lockdowns end.
The Canberra Times understands no engagement or correspondence has occurred between either the Department of Health, or the Health Ministers office and local tech companies already selling testing kits in the US, UK and the European Union.
Queensland-based AnteoTech which makes rapid antigen and screening tests for the European market, confirmed the Commonwealth and most state and territory governments have not contacted the company in relation to its EuGeni testing technology, which is currently subject to a fast-tracked approval process from the Therapeutics Goods Administration.
AnteoTech chairman Jack Hamilton said all levels of government need to begin implementing plans on rapid-antigen testing to ensure workplaces and communities will be equipped to conduct tests when living with the virus begins.
"I suspect at the moment is still formative, it's ... the position that government has really only changed through the Sydney outbreak," he said.
"I think the government will need to keep working up ... what is [the] role for rapid testing."
It is also understood at-home testing kit company Ellume, which is also based in Brisbane and already selling in the US market, has also not been engaged by any Australian level of government.
Ellume's home testing kits are currently banned for use in Australia under TGA laws prohibiting at-home testing for contagious diseases, however the regulator does have the power to allow the use of the products at its discretion.
The TGA has done this in the past for at-home HIV and influenza testing kits.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government supports the implementation of rapid antigen and at-home testing, but will require the support of the states and territories.
"At the Minister for Health's request, the TGA has commenced work on the steps that would allow the provision of self-tests for COVID-19," a Health Minister spokesperson said.
"We strongly support the use of rapid antigen testing in alternate settings including at the home."
It is unclear whether Australia will face supply constraints when ordering rapid tests in the global market, similar to what has occurred with the procurement of vaccines this year.
Conversations about Australia adopting rapid testing and whether it should be subsidised comes as NSW recorded 935 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and four deaths, while Victoria posted 567 new cases and one fatality.
The UK government subsidised rapid antigen testing to assist in lowering virus numbers in workplaces, schools and events, a move which Mr Hamilton says the Commonwealth need to consider.
Ernst and Young is anticipated to release modelling to look at the ongoing structural impacts virus disruptions will have on the economy once vaccination targets are reached and lockdowns end.
The Doherty Institute on Monday flagged rapid antigen testing is not as accurate as a traditional PCR test, but flagged it could be used once the country moves to a "risk reduction" model rather than an elimination strategy.
"Clearly these things need to be done within their license indications, they need to be done safely and proportionately and usefully, and there needs to be a clear framework about how it can be done," epidemiologist Jodie McVernon said.
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