NZ Importer has 3.5 million rapid antigen tests but can’t get approval from Ministry of Health

Yesterday we shared that NZ health experts are now saying rapid antigen tests will be a critical tool for managing Covid-19 in New Zealand, with traditional PCR testing capacity expected to be overrun by an outbreak of the Omicron variant. Time is of the essence.

Now an NZ importer has 3.5 million rapid antigen tests waiting to import into New Zealand, but says the Ministry of Health is not acting fast enough to ensure there is enough testing kits in the country for when the next Covid-19 outbreak occurs.

Why does it appear that the Ministry of Health went on summer holidays instead of working to approve more rapid antigen tests?

Excerpt from Stuff …

TBI Diagnostics NZ director Vasco Kovacevic says his company is one of those trying to get tests approved by the ministry. It had 20,000 rapid antigen test kits sitting in an Auckland storage facility waiting for clearance from the Ministry of Health and another 3.5 million ready to be dispatched from China which could arrive in New Zealand within a matter of days, he said.

He said he filed an application for approval of the kits in mid-December but was yet to receive a response from the Ministry of Health about where the application was at despite trying to contact the ministry on numerous occasions.

The Ministry of Health spokesman said it had received a large volume of applications for authorisation and was working through them.

Kovacevic said he was frustrated Ministry of Health officials went on holiday at such a critical time in the pandemic.

“The lack of action that I am seeing currently really makes me question some of the decisions our government has taken during this pandemic.”

Terry Taylor, president of the New Zealand Institute of Medical Laboratory Science, said there were a lot of companies wanting to import millions of rapid antigen tests, and the Ministry of Health needed to fast-track the approval process.

“There does need to be some fast track assessment, but it needs to be rigorous,” Taylor said.

Read full Stuff article here.

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