End of free RAT program puts vulnerable people at risk
12 July 2022
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) National President Dr Fei Sim is critical of the Federal Government’s announcement that the COVID-19 Rapid Test Concessional Access Program would not be extended beyond July 2022.
Dr Sim says that this move not only puts vulnerable Australians at risk, but also sends the wrong message to the public.
“PSA is very concerned about the Federal Government’s plan to cease concessional access to Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) at the end of the month. It sends the wrong message to the public,” she said.
“The pandemic is not over, and the threat of serious illness is still there for many vulnerable people in our communities. Testing remains a vital part of our COVID-19 response.
“While recognising that our approach to test-trace-isolate has changed since the program was launched in January, testing with even mild symptoms remains an expectation of everyone in the community.
“With most states and territories adopting advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to move from a 3-month to a 28-day immunity period, access to testing will be vital, especially for vulnerable groups who’ve relied on the concessional program.
“Let’s not forget that case numbers and hospitalisations are still rising every single day. Governments should be encouraging more testing, not less.
Dr Sim also pointed out a positive RAT or PCR test was necessary for people to access antiviral medicines.
“A patient needs a positive COVID-19 test in order to access antiviral medicines, and for many concession card holders RATs are the only way testing is accessible.
“We cannot simply remove the main method of testing that’s accessible to these vulnerable groups. The result will be a lot of people not testing at all.
“PSA fully supports an extension of the concessional RAT program to make sure that our most vulnerable have continued access to testing when it’s needed.
“We also call on the Federal Government to restore funding to the COVID-19 Home Medicines Service, allowing COVID-positive patients to safely access the medicines they need from home.”
PSA strongly supports other important messages to help Australians stay safe, including staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccination, staying home when sick and wearing face masks in indoor public environments
Media contact: Georgia Clarke 0487 922 176