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Medsafe has banned some COVID-19 testing kits

Emma Olsen
COVID-19 international point of care test
COVID-19 international point of care test   Flickr

Only approved point of care test kits for COVID-19 will be able to be imported and sold in New Zealand

Medsafe has concerns about the quality of testing from many of the kits that have been developed internationally and believes it could impact the interpretation of results. 

Group Manager of Medsafe Chris James sent out a publication on the New Zealand Gazette yesterday notifying people of the ban. 

"The Ministry of Health hereby prohibits the importation, manufacture, packing, sale, supply or use of any kits and other test materials intended for use as point of care testing for COVID-19 infection," said Mr James.

This ban does not affect the test kits currently being used by the Ministry of Health for COVID-19 testing.

There are two primary types of test kits:

The PCR one that is used by the Ministry of Health takes a tissue sample and gets sent off for positive identification.

There's also the point of care testing which uses a blood sample to detect antibodies in the blood. This test can be used at home or in the workplace but is gaining concerns internationally about the accuracy of the results.

The ban has been made in the interest of public health and safety to ensure only COVID-19 test kits that are of good quality and produce effective results are available for use. 

As the quality of the kits improves, it is expected that New Zealand would get to a stage where a point of care test may be approved for use.