The inability to simply go to a supermarket or pharmacy, or online, to buy a rapid antigen test like the rest of the civilised world has held back New Zealand’s COVID-19 response.
One implication is longer than necessary isolation times. Without the ability to test, isolation times have to be long enough that a person’s infectious period probably will have passed, rather than ending isolation when a negative test is acquired.
Another result is excessive demand for PCR testing, with testing stations having to close, allegedly due to lack of supplies in recent days. There are also reports of fatigue on the part of laboratory staff required to process PCR tests, and long delays in getting the results of these tests returned.
There is also the intangible issue of control. People have to queue for a test at a Government testing station, then wait for the results in isolation until they can make decisions. People should be free to take control of their own lives, including being able to buy a test and test themselves.