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“$40 for 2 tests”: Aussies unhappy with RAT prices

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With Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday ruling out government funding free rapid coronavirus tests, consumers are unhappy with RATs prices especially since free PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing has reduced in many suburbs.

AT A GLANCE:

  • Sydney residents paying upwards of $60 for 5 tests find it “unfair” that RATs have not been subsidised
  • Consumer watchdog ACCC, now investigating price gouging claims, had not yet seen evidence of widespread price hikes
  • Price gouging of rapid antigen tests can now be reported on the ACCC website

There have been widespread reports of price gouging on RATs amid supply shortfalls, while the wait times for results of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests have blown out to upwards of 72 hours.

Amid growing pressure on the government to subsidize rapid antigen tests (RATs) for Australians with infections surging across the country, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) announced yesterday that it will investigate incidents of price-gouging.

Tejas Kaja, from Mascot in Sydney, bought RAT kits on two separate occasions and by the second time the costs had doubled.

“I bought my first pack of RATs for $55 at a pharmacy, and it included five tests. After week went by, I needed to get tested again, so I visited a private grocery store nearby and bought a pack of two RAT test kits for $40,” Tejas told Indian Link.

“PCR testing clinics have reduced, but RATs have not been subsidised or made easily available. I work from home so I can wait for PCR test results but others, like my housemate, who have to step out for work and need their test results quickly, what about them?

“I can afford RAT test prices, but a lot of people cannot, it’s unfair for them,” he said.

Tejas is also concerned that the high cost and low availability of RATs would lead to inaccurate recording of case numbers.

“If people can’t go get tested at PCR testing centres and can’t find or afford RATs, COVID-19 case numbers will be affected. I think the real case numbers could be higher.”

READ ALSO: Taking your first rapid antigen test? 7 tips for an accurate result

Pharmacies are showing a shortage of COVID-19 rapid testing kits. Source: (screenshot) Chemist Warehouse online website.

Monica Rudhar, based in Sydney’s Dulwich Hill had her friend buy RATs from a pharmacy in Padstow. She said she wants to see more support from the Australian government.

“I paid $62 for a five pack of RAT tests. I ended up having COVID. These tests are very essential services and need to be subsidised by the government, not used against the people to make profit,” she said.

“There is a very limited supply, and it requires a lot of labour to track them down. People are panic buying and buying in bulk. There needs to be more support,” she added.

Consumers are being asked to contact the ACCC to report price gouging of RATs.

Countries like UK have made rapid antigen tests (RATs) free and available at pharmacies, community centres, and even deliverable to people’s homes. US President Biden also announced that the government would purchase half a billion RATs to distribute to people for free. However, France stopped free COVID-19 tests in October 2021 to encourage vaccination and reduce government spending.

Today, NSW has reported 35,054 locally-acquired COVID-19 infections, more than the country had in all of 2020, and eight deaths.

If you’re on the hunt for a RAT, try www.findarat.com.au

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Bageshri Savyasachi
Truth-telling, tree-hugging journalist.

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