No excuse for any rapid antigen test shortage, supplier claims

Any rapid antigen test shortages in Australia will be the fault of pharmacies and other retailers, a leading supplier of the kits has said, as testing for the Omicron variant skyrockets ahead of Christmas.

Roche Australia said demand for the do-it-yourself tests to detect coronavirus had "gone bananas" over the last week but it confirmed its supplies from South Korea into Australia were plentiful.

"We have had calls today from clients ordering thousand of tests," Allison Rossiter, managing director of Roche Diagnostic Australia, told 9news.com.au.

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A Sydney pharmacist stands near the counter, where a sign advertises rapid antigen tests for sale.

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"We have a warehouse full of stock," Ms Rossiter said, despite large deliveries of the tests shipped out from Roche to pharmacies and retailers across Australia every day.

Ms Rossiter said there had been a mad rush of orders for the test as cases of Omicron began to rise in New South Wales, but was bemused by any talk of shortages.

Rapid antigen tests were approved for use in Australia from November 1 and there was an initial "flurry" in orders, Ms Rossiter said, but that had fallen away until the emergence of Omicron.

Roche Diagnostic is one of 15 approved suppliers of rapid antigen tests in Australia.

Inquiries from 9news.com.au to other suppliers went unanswered.

Chemist Warehouse did not respond with comment about any potential rapid antigen test shortages. The Pharmacy Guild Of Australia also declined to comment.

New South Wales COVID-19 case numbers are on the increase across the state, with health authorities also reporting new cases of the Omicron variant.

Lines and wait times at PCR testing sites across Sydney have spiralled over the last week, with many residents rushing to get clearance to travel interstate or – to a lesser extent – abroad.

Roche Australia also supplies PCR kits and analysis machines to Australia.

Ms Rossiter said demand for PCR tests had "never really slackened off" and "had been high for most of the time" since the pandemic began almost two years ago.

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