How you can get a Rapid Antigen Test when there aren’t any . . .

Capital Chemist Charnwood Pharmacists Samantha Kourtis and Rebecca Richardson

Samantha Kourtis, the pharmacist at Capital Chemist Charnwood, is fierce and direct when asked about the availability of Rapid Antigen Tests. “Government has handed the pharmacies a screaming baby.”

The reason why? She can’t get Rapid Antigen Tests, more colloquially known as RAT’s, for love or money, yet this is the one thing people want when they come to see her at the Charnwood shops. And Kourtis is particularly concerned that she hasn’t had enough to hand out, particularly to people with disabilities.

Demand has been so huge the pharmacy is regularly updating its phone message to stop people from making unnecessary trips into the shaping centre. “RAT tests. We have none, sometimes minimal stock arriving this week . . . it might be three units, it might be 20”. The pharmacy is regularly updating how much stock it’s holding but says problem is that if there are no tests to sell, there’s nothing to update.

Managing Partner Rebecca Richardson says she’s trying to support people with disability by “putting aside a few tests for concession cardholders who need them.”

“We’ve got a link on our facebook page that’s specially devoted to the needs of people who need to pre-order”, Richardson says, adding that there’s a pre-order form for those who might have difficulty coming in and arranging the pick-up in a busy pharmacy crowded with people. She says the chemist has also begun a home delivery service, costing $5 for a door to door service.

“Not everyone wants to – or can – come into a crowded shopping centre. We’re very aware that people with disability at the moment are in a very difficult situation. It can be highly problematic for them to be in large groups of people and we are attempting to support their needs by ensuring they can still access all the medicines they need in a manner that’s suitable for them. It’s just simply not possible for immuno-compromised people, for example, to attend a big shopping centre.”

The good news is that Richardson says many tests are likely to be available by the end of the week.

“We’ve got a $10,000 order that we’ve been told is currently being filled. Even if we don’t receive all of it at once we do expect to have $3,000 worth of stock by Thursday (3rd February) and we’ll be making sure we keep enough of this to fill the backlog of requests we’ve received from concession card holders and people with disability who can’t just go over the road and pick up tests from, say, a tobacconist. We’ll be putting aside tests for those who need them most rather than just selling them to people who can afford the mark-ups.”

Nic Stuart

Nicholas Stuart is an author (Kevin Rudd, an unauthorised political biography; What Goes Up, behind the 2007 election; Kevin Rudd, 2007 - 2011) and columnist with the Canberra Times. He was the ABC's Indochina Correspondent when he suffered a significant head injury in a car crash in Bangkok.

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