Senate debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Statements by Senators

COVID-19: Testing

1:50 pm

Photo of Gerard RennickGerard Rennick (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

In the last Senate estimates, I asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration if they could tell me which part of the coronavirus genomic sequence they used to indicate that someone was positive to COVID and whether that genomic sequence made up other coronaviruses. Professor Murphy responded:

We can provide on notice the specific primers and the part of the virus it's used for. We do not believe there was cross-reactivity with other coronaviruses, but we can provide on notice. We have experts at Doherty who would be happy to provide that information.

Last week, I finally got the answer I have been waiting on for a very long time and—surprise, surprise!—I'll read it out to you:

There are a range of primers used in Australian laboratories, developed commercially or in-house … each targeting different areas of the SARS-CoV-2 viral genome. Depending on a laboratories individual established workflow … target genes include—

I'll note the RdRp gene. This is the bit that you'll like:

… the Australian Government cannot provide primer sequence information for commercially available test kits as this is commercial in confidence…

Get a load of this. For almost two years we shut down an entire country, spent hundreds of billions of dollars and instilled fear into every man, woman and child because of a virus, but when it comes to asking the health department for the part of the sequence that they used to indicate whether or not someone had a positive response to that virus they can't provide it, because it's 'commercial in confidence'. Well, excuse me. I didn't know that a virus could be patented, or am I missing something here? You tell me. Bring on the royal commission.