Covid-free status

Covid-free status far more important than vaccination status to prevent viral transmission of the disease

Studies have shown that while vaccination against Covid is crucial to preventing severe disease and death, even fully-vaxxed individuals can catch the virus – and pass it on.

With 91.7 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 double-vaccinated, and state restrictions coming back into force – the emphasis must shift from presenting a benign green tick for entrance or participation, to the ability to present a current Covid-free status.

Presenting proof of vaccination holds very little value if the individual concerned is infectious but asymptomatic, and with recorded Covid cases leaping exponentially, it is obvious that the current precautions are having little to no effect.

Tied into this narrative is the government’s recent announcement regarding not tracking cases publicly but rather focusing on hospitalisations. Prime minister Scott Morrison is actively encouraging people who have tested positive, even those who have taken a rapid antigen test, to contact their doctor.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) warns however, that general practice is already at breaking point. RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that soaring COVID-19 case numbers mean new reporting systems are sorely needed.

The Victorian Government has announced that people who have tested positive on a rapid antigen test can report the result to the Department of Health via an online form or by phone so that they can access care, information, and financial support during isolation, and South Australia is launching a system enabling close contacts to be sent a QR code that can be shown to staff at collection points to receive two rapid antigen tests. A quick test of this system allows a false name, false address and no registration of phone or email - but the registration of a positive result. Why would we want this kind of unsecure solution capturing sensitive health information?

“There needs to be a system right across Australia for recording positive rapid antigen results – if not for reporting processes, then at least for hospital and healthcare resourcing,” said Price.

“As things currently stand, positive rapid antigen test results are not being recorded or counted as part of the official case numbers as there is no formal notification process. Patients contacting their GP with a positive rapid antigen test result does not equate to the health system having an aggregate view of the number of positive cases in the community.

“General practices simply do not have the administrative capacity to officially lodge all COVID-19 cases. There needs to be a foundational triage system designed to assist many thousands of people across Australia because GPs can only shoulder the burden of so much responsibility and we certainly can’t manage this process on our own.”

Fortunately, the private sector is one step ahead.

Australian-based medtech company Gardian, has developed a state-of-the-art, proactive application, available for IoS and Android, that provides a robust protocol for repeatable, self-managed COVID-19 testing and reporting.

Graham Gordon, CEO and founder of Gardian reveals that the self-check app captures individual identification, consent, and an auditable process capable of providing a certifiable Covid rapid test outcome in a certificate form to individuals, their employers, health departments or a government-based platform, all in under 20 minutes. It also uses accessible image-based instructions to support those whose first language is not English, or the more than five million Australians who simply cannot speak or read English.

And as security and privacy are of paramount importance, all data recorded via the app is protected and used in accordance with the AMA Code of Ethics (2016). Using bank level encryption to ensure that every piece of data stored remains 100 percent safe, data is hosted by Google Cloud Services.

The Gardian platform includes auto emails and a management system that supports individuals that are positive – and where they previously notified the person of their closest PCR station – they can now activate a telehealth consultation with a qualified nurse practitioner, and the provision of a health certificate to those that need it.

“We appreciate that receiving a positive test is daunting but believe that if individuals have secure access to a registered healthcare provider from the comfort and safety of their own home, they will be better off. In addition to providing work for nurses who otherwise can’t for various reasons, the system will keep positive patients away from doctor surgeries and emergency waiting rooms where serious cases are being treated.”

“We are ready to work with government as needed to resolve this issue and ensure there is a system that works for the healthcare sector and the general public,” adds Gordon.

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