Millions of Rapid Antigen Tests arrive in Australia

  • Joint media release with:
  • The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care
19 January 2022

The Morrison Government's International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) is overcoming global supply chain disruptions to bring millions of Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) to Australia.

Up to 52 million RATs will be flown into Australia this month from Asia and the United States on IFAM-supported commercial flights.

Minister Tehan said the IFAM model had made a significant contribution to the nation's pandemic response by matching limited air freight capacity to critical health imports.

“The IFAM is a great example of the Government and the private sector collaborating to support the importing of critical Rapid Antigen Tests for Australians,” Minister Tehan said.

“The IFAM has brought together the best of private sector, military and government logistics expertise to work hand-in-hand with Australian freight forwarders and airlines to secure space on planes for critical health inputs and premium perishable exports to established markets.”

“COVID-19 has presented substantial challenges to global supply chains, making the IFAM's logistical expertise more valuable than ever.”

Minister Hunt said supply of RATs was a universal challenge, with increasing demand globally challenging supply chains.

“These kits – destined for supermarkets, pharmacies and medical services across the country – will help Australians juggling the demands of jobs and families with requirements to isolate and undergo rapid testing,” Minister Hunt said.

“RATs are an important way we can keep the community safe while ensuring essential workers can continue to do their jobs.”

A targeted, temporary, emergency measure established by the Morrison Government in response to COVID-19, the IFAM has supported the import of items of critical national importance, as well as the export of high-value perishable products, such as fresh seafood, cherries, mangoes, avocados and chilled beef, to existing overseas markets.

IFAM provides logistical and administrative support for international air freight movements by aggregating cargo loads, negotiating with airlines and dealing with partner governments to facilitate clearances and improve transparency of freight costs during the pandemic.

Austrade's IFAM freight controller, Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib, said IFAM flights had been vital to supporting the country during tough times.

“IFAM is prioritising medical supplies, medicines and equipment to support Australia's health response, as well as items deemed in the national interest,” Air Vice-Marshal Staib said. 

“The program has been instrumental in reconnecting global supply chains and supporting the import of critical medical supplies, equipment and other goods of national importance.”

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