Does trucking need rapid antigen testing?

In TDDA, December 2021 / January 20223 MinutesBy Kirk HardyFebruary 13, 2022

Trucking businesses know how a positive Covid-19 case can affect drivers and fleets; parked trucks and employees down for weeks isn’t an option for most companies. As a drug detection agency, the TDDA fields many questions about saliva PCR testing and even more about the government’s Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) trial.

I’m here to explain what PCR and RAT mean to the average Joe trying to move a container from point A to B. The terminology we’re talking about is ‘surveillance testing’. This doesn’t mean cameras in cabs. ‘Surveillance’ in this case means collecting data, so a fleet manager has rapid access to information to make important decisions and to detect and respond to positive cases. Let’s talk about testing options.

Saliva PCR testing is non-invasive and easy to administer. It’s highly accurate and has been shown to detect infection in people up to three days earlier than a nasal swab. The Ministry of Health approves PCR testing for workers crossing alert-level boundaries who need evidence of a test within the previous seven days. It’s the current standard and an effective test.

RATs are widely used globally because they can be conducted almost anytime and anywhere with results provided in as little as 15 minutes. RATs offer cost savings compared with saliva testing, but they aren’t as accurate as PCR tests and are therefore best used as a complementary tool.

The Ministry of Health has imported RATs as part of a large-scale trial. TDDA participates in this programme and is already delivering RAT services, processes and policies throughout Australia. RAT is a service we’ll offer when it is approved for all New Zealand businesses.

Both saliva PCR and RAT tests have a lot of value for trucking businesses. They deliver fast and accurate information to keep the rubber on the road and allow companies to address a positive case quickly – limiting the spread of Covid-19 in the workforce and the wider community.

Truckies should view accredited saliva PCR testing and RAT testing as basic risk-mitigation processes. They’re simply two extra tools at your disposal, and both are safe and easy ways to manage Covid-19’s risk to your fleet.

Kirk Hardy is the director and co-founder of The Drug Detection Agency (TDDA).