“The Government’s anti-science approach to Covid-19 testing means we’re unprepared for Omicron”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Amtech, a New Zealand medical product supplier, has been declined certification to import and distribute rapid antigen testing kits by the Ministry of Health.
“While Australia has approved 65 rapid antigen testing products, and is running out, New Zealand has just approved just four products.
“The Ministry says companies who would like to import and distribute RATs should conduct a ‘supplier independent evaluation’. That would take three to six months. It’s nuts that it would take so long to approve one in the middle of a pandemic.
“With a crunch in supply, why would we restrict ourselves like this?
“The Ministry should instead automatically approve for importation and distribution RATs which have been approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). That would bring down the price of RATs and make them more widely available for New Zealanders.
“RNZ reports the President of the Institute of Medical Laboratory Science Terry Taylor as saying our diagnostic testing services would be overwhelmed if there was a similar demand for tests as there has been in Australia.
“Improving Covid-19 testing is something Jacinda Ardern should have done instead of a little dance while we enjoyed Covid-19 freedom. The Government took a long nap when it could have been preparing our defences.
“Rako Science has the capacity to do 10,000 saliva tests a day on top of Asia Pacific’s 3,500. Instead of working with the private sector, the Government simply passed a law that said: ‘If we need it, we’ll just take it.’
“Pharmacists say New Zealanders are shocked to learn they can’t buy rapid antigen tests. The effective ban on purchasing RATs, while the Ministry of Health stockpiles millions of them, is inexplicable.
“The Government’s approach has been anti-science and tech-phobic. People who have tried to partner with it from the private sector have expressed immense frustration.
“New Zealanders have endured significant restrictions on their lives which could have been reduced by taking an innovative, tech-led approach to Covid-19. As with vaccinations and contact tracing, New Zealanders have played their part, but the Government has let the team of five million down.”