Australia Regulator Flags Price Hike of COVID-19 Tests

Australia’s competition regulator said it has “significant concerns“ about the retail price of COVID-19 rapid antigen tests, with reports of kits costing as much as A$100 ($72) each amid a widespread shortage.

“In the middle of a significant outbreak of COVID-19 in a pandemic, the excessive pricing of rapid antigen tests required to diagnose the illness and protect other members of the public, is of significant concern,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chair Rod Sims said.

Australia is facing a shortage of at-home rapid antigen test kits after authorities urged the public to take their own tests due to high volumes of testing delaying results from government-funded hubs.

“Any test costing more than A$30, even with supply constraints, is almost certainly too expensive and would seem to be taking advantage of the current circumstances,” Sims added.

Wholesale costs of the antigen tests range only between A$3.95 and A$11.45 a test, the ACCC noted in the statement, adding that it is investigating and asking businesses to explain the exorbitant retail prices. 

On Monday, Australia’s most populous state New South Wales reported 2,776 hospitalizations from COVID-19, with 203 people in intensive care. Health officials reported that 95% of cases sequenced in the past two days were the Omicron variant.

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