COVID-19 in WA: McGowan Government finally signs deal to secure rapid antigen tests from Perth supplier

Headshot of Peter Law
Peter LawThe West Australian
WA Premier Mark McGowan..
Camera IconWA Premier Mark McGowan.. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

The McGowan Government has signed a deal to purchase rapid antigen tests from a Perth-based supplier, on the same day it emerged tens of millions of kits in WA were being sent to the Eastern States.

AM Diagnostics, located in Bayswater, is one of the nation’s biggest importers of Chinese-made RATs but almost all its stock is going east because the NSW, Victorian and Commonwealth governments were the first to secure supplies.

After the revelation in Tuesday’s The West Australian, Mark McGowan said the company had approached PathWest earlier this month about selling tests to WA, but when the agency requested a sample kit to verify their effectiveness, it never received a response.

PathWest’s request for a sample came three months after the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved the sale of AM Diagnostic’s tests. The medical regulator said the oral tests had “high sensitivity” and the nasal swabs “very high sensitivity”.

“We did go back to them and we didn’t hear back from them, but obviously we can go back to them again,” the Premier said.

“We are currently scheduled to secure 10 million rapid antigen tests ... by the end of this month. We’re in total scheduled now to get 105.5 million rapid antigen tests at a cost of $640 million.

“Our rate of acquisition, if you like, is going to grow, we expect by 10 million by the end of this month, by February 5, another 15 million are expected by mid-February and another 10 million expected by the end of March.”

A McGowan Government spokeswoman said the Department of Finance had ordered RATs from AM Diagnostics on Friday. It’s understood the contract was signed on Tuesday.

She said a representative from AM Diagnostics had recently also turned up unannounced at PathWest to provide a sample kit.

In NSW and Victoria, students and teachers will be supplied free RATs to test themselves twice weekly for the first month of term one. The on-the-spot tests will be considered for WA schools when high case numbers were reached.

AM Diagnostics has already this month imported 32 million RATs from China on dozens of charter flights. Its customers include major pharmacy and supermarket chains in addition to other State governments.

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