Australian regulator to review price hike in COVID-19 antigen tests

Australia's antitrust regulator said on Tuesday it has contacted suppliers of COVID-19 rapid antigen test kits to examine pricing pressures in the market, as calls grow louder for the government to make the tests free amid a severe shortage of the kits.

Illustrative Image
Illustrative Image

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said in a statement it will review information received from suppliers, retailers and the public to determine any potential misconduct.

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison sought to relieve pressure on overrun COVID-19 testing facilities and encouraged greater use of antigen tests as the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant caused a surge in cases in Australia's two most populous states.

As of Tuesday, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria reported 37,151 new cases between them, just shy of the national one-day high of 37,212 hit a day earlier. Hospitalisations in NSW, home to Sydney, more than doubled in a week to 1,344, surpassing the record numbers hit during the Delta outbreak.

The country is facing a shortage of rapid antigen test kits, while Morrison said the government would not cover the cost for people to test themselves, which he put at 15AUD (10.80USD).

The ACCC also cautioned businesses to not collude about pricing and make any misleading claims to consumers about it.