Perth fans of US discount giant Costco have rushed to snap up 20-pack rapid antigen tests priced about $140.
RAT kits only became legal in WA on Monday after the State Government removed a ban on the fast-acting tests.
Demand for tests has sky-rocketed in the Eastern States as the Omicron wave spreads through out the country’s most populous cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Posting photographs of their spoils to social media, WA shoppers revealed shelf stock of the tests was stripped within hours of the bulk buy store opening despite consumers capped to a one-pack per membership.
Adjacent to DFO near Perth Airport, the membership-only warehouse opened to much fanfare amid Perth’s initial and longest lockdown in early 2020.
Ahead of the ban lifting earlier this week, WA’s Pharmacy Guild warned there would not be enough rapid antigen tests in the State — estimating it would take weeks before residents could any on pharmacies or supermarket shelves.
The guild’s director Matt Tweedie said RATs would play an important role in helping to detect and slow community transmission when the border opens on February 5.
The chronic shortage of RATs has been exacerbated by rising COVID exposure in Australia, RAT testing requirements, low national stockpiles, only manufacturing capacity abroad, and international demand.
The bulk of the 18 RATs approved for use in Australia by the Theraputic Goods Administration are manufactured in China.
Coles, Woolies and select chemists have all introduced a one-pack limit for RATs.
Coles chief executive Steven Cain told The Australian this week that the supermarket giant was “delivering millions” of RAT tests to stores weekly, but admitted it was not enough to satisfy demand.
“We’ve ordered more from our suppliers, but while demand remains at current levels we expect it will be a few weeks before there are enough tests for every customer who wants to buy them,” he said.
Costco Australia was contacted for comment but didn’t respond in time for publication.