Sydney-based courier platform, Zoom2u, has created a donation-driven rapid antigen test marketplace that collects them from those who have too many, and delivers them to those who need them, for free.
In practice, the service sends a courier out to the premises of someone who has tests to spare. Then, the driver either returns them to headquarters, where the test/s are kept for stock, or driven directly to someone who has registered interest via the courier service’s site.
Zoom2u founder Steve Orenstein said at this stage reallocation platform will operate as a “public service”, free of charge to anyone who needs a test, until the 200 million RATs ordered by state and federal governments land at testing facilities and on shelves over the next month.
“We anticipate there will be short-term shortages for approximately two weeks,” Orenstein told Business Insider Australia.
“At this stage, the cost to us is not of any importance, it is more about getting any remaining tests to those who need them. If we were to support the rollout of more tests, on a larger scale, we may look to co-fund with other businesses, but this is dependent on how many businesses register and have the leftover stock available.”
As it stands, the platform’s coverage area is limited to Sydney and has reallocated only a handful of RATs. But Orenstein said it’d be easy to scale if supply shortages persist, because the company has drivers located around the country.
He said the courier outfit had success with a similar program it ran through early lockdowns in the pandemic, which saw businesses donate laptops and other equipment needed to work from home, which Zoom2u then reallocated to those who needed it.
“We saw similar short-term delays with both hand sanitiser and even vaccines at the beginning of the pandemic, where a well thought-through logistics system had not been put in place,” Orenstein said.
“Many businesses may have stock sitting in their office and could spare some for people sitting at home feeling sick and can’t find any,” he said.
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“The system took less than an hour to set up, and it works. We will aim to run the program for the next two weeks at a minimum, while there is a shortage, and try to help those who need it.”
After a National Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new plan that would allow concession card holders in the wake of mounting pressure to make them free.
He said those eligible would be able to collect 10 free RATs from their local pharmacies every three months. Universal free access to at-home test kits, however, was all but ruled out.
“Universal free access was not considered the right policy response by all of the states and territories in attendance today, and the Commonwealth,” Morrison said.
“You get a free test at the testing centre. If you are symptomatic [or] a close contact, you can go to the testing centre as many times as you need to. All of those tests are free,” he said.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese slammed the announcement, joining a chorus of industry groups, economists, unions and politicians in criticising the government for deciding against universal free access to rapid antigen tests.
Rapid antigen tests have been the subject of a major supply crunch in Australia, where scores of retailers are low on stock, if they have any at all.
Morrison said more than 200 million tests, ordered by state and federal governments, are expected to arrive in Australia over the next two months, by which time experts expect the worst of the Omicron wave to have subsided.
“There is this rapid increase in the demand for these tests in an Omicron pandemic, which was different to what was occurring in the Delta pandemic,” Morrison said.
“And, as a result, the challenges we are facing here are the same and similar to the many other countries like Australia elsewhere in the world,” he said.
Orenstein said the Perrottet and Morrison governments’ joint commitment to a December reopening was one borne of “poor leadership” and decision-making.
“Instead, the government should have made sure enough supply was available and made it available to the public as soon as we opened back up,” Orenstein said.
“As the UK has been doing for months: you test, and then you go out. This is the way of life moving forward,” he said.
“It was obvious back in July that RATs were going to be key to living with COVID in the future. All we needed to do was look to countries like the UK and the US to see how rapid this variant would spread.”
Source: Thanks msn.com