News Coronavirus Health Minister defends antibody test kits deemed not accurate enough to be used

Health Minister defends antibody test kits deemed not accurate enough to be used

Members of the public seek testing at a coronavirus clinic. Photo: AAP
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Health Minister Greg Hunt has been forced to defend the purchase of 1.5 million antibody coronavirus tests that are not accurate enough to be used in Australia.

The antibody tests were supposed to be distributed soon after they arrived in March.

But a report commissioned by Mr Hunt found they were not ready for widespread deployment.

Australian National University Professor Carola Vinuesa, one of the report’s co-authors, said the tests were not useful.

“At the moment, the quality does not seem to be good enough for these tests to be deployed in large scale,” she told Nine.

“The sensitivity is not very good. They are not useful in being able to say ‘you were infected’.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt has previously shot down flu vaccine shortage concerns.

The health minister denied the fingerprint tests were unreliable, saying they were designed for mass outbreaks.

“And we haven’t had a mass outbreak,” Mr Hunt said.

Australia has recorded almost 7000 coronavirus cases and 97 people have died.

On Wednesday The Guardian reported that coronavirus tests brought to Australia by mining magnate Andrew Forrest at a $200 million cost to taxpayers were also not being used.

Despite by lauded by Mr Hunt at the time, The Guardian claimed most states are not using the type of tests purchased by Mr Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation and some have no need of additional tests, which have now been sent to the national medical stockpile.

“What these 10m tests will do is allow our state and territory public health units to be able to test right through 2020, to provide us with the capacity to contain and suppress and defeat the virus,” Mr Hunt said at the time.

Victoria was the only state to confirm to The Guardian the use of the BGI tests.

-with AAP