With rising wait times for PCR testing and delayed results nationwide, government advice to take “personal responsibility” has left us scrambling to hunt down our own rapid antigen tests (RAT). And demand is fast outstripping supply.
Reports have emerged of price gouging as well as calls for government to make more tests available free of charge. In the midst of the chaos, two independent Australian initiatives are trying to help close the information gap.
In Sydney, Instagram account Bondi Lines has pivoted from monitoring nightclub queues to PCR testing queues, and in recent days it’s also been helping Sydneysiders find out which chemists and supermarkets have RATs in stock.
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Bondi Lines polls its followers, asking where they’d physically seen the tests available in the last 30 minutes. It then aggregates the data before sharing the information, sometimes including prices, on their Instagram stories. There are even updates when previously listed stockists sell out.
In Melbourne, the Find a Rat website was conceived and launched within a matter of hours yesterday by Melbourne software developer Matt Hayward. The site also crowdsources its information, asking users to log in to share details of known RAT availability.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, reports on Twitter indicate the site was hit by trolls yesterday afternoon shortly after its launch, sending unwitting RAT hunters to hairdressers and even McDonalds in search of the tests. Twitter users have also suggested some more likely stockists, including pharmacies, have been caught unawares, finding dozens of people queuing at opening for tests they don’t have in stock.
In a refreshing show of cooperation Bondi Lines said on its Instagram stories this morning it will be adding all the information it receives from followers to the Find a RAT site, potentially helping to shore up accuracy.
As word spreads and more listings are added – including in Brisbane and Adelaide – Hayward has indicated on Twitter he will be continuing to tweak his methods to provide the most accurate data possible.