The Government may be considering U-turning on it’s long-held opposition to the extended use of Antigen testing as a means of controlling the spread of COVID-19 whilst allowing society to re-open. In his most recent statement, Minister Donnelly said that the government are considering subsidizing Antigen-testing for schools. The serious consideration by government to subsidise Antigen testing at a nation-wide level is a reversal of earlier positions in which government representatives and the Minister himself robustly resisted the wide-spread use of Antigen testing. In one notable interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Minister Donnelly said…
“The real concern that Dr Holohan has and the people on NPHET have is that people get these tests, they may not be the right tests, they may not use them in the right way, they may take a different meaning from a negative result and therefore act in riskier ways that put themselves and other people at risk,”
Widespread approved use of Antigen testing has been a pillar of COVID response in a multitude of states for over 18 months now. NPHET and the Irish government have resisted the mass use of Antigen testing, claiming it is not reliable and that the public would not be able to administer the tests correctly. They have relied on the ‘Cochrane report’ to justify their position, despite growing international evidence over the 18 month period that rapid-Antigen testing was an effective means of mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
If subsidisation of school Antigen testing is approved, there are no indications as yet how it would be applied.