The availability of antigen tests, which provide a rapid diagnosis of Covid-19, and are easy to administer, could greatly assist in our testing and tracing efforts, a Fine Gael TD has said. Dublin Mid West Deputy Emer Higgins said, “I was pleased to hear Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the Dáil say that testing technologies such as antigen testing and rapid testing by public health could supplement existing tests such as PCR (Polymerase chain reaction).
“The Taoiseach said during Leaders Questions recenty that the Government would be willing to implement these sort of tests, but clinical evaluation of these technologies is needed and that is currently being done in several other countries. “This test, if it is rolled out here, could be a game changer in our testing and tracing strategy as it can be provided in certain settings to larger numbers such as in schools and factories if someone is symptomatic,” Deputy Higgins said. “An antigen test detects certain proteins in the virus. Using a nasal or throat swab to get a fluid sample, antigen tests can produce results in minutes. “The tests are beneficial as they are faster and less expensive than PCR tests, and in that respect they may be more practical to use for large numbers of people.
“PCR tests which are commonly used here and processed through a laboratory are almost 100% accurate in their results. But such tests generally require trained personnel, specific reagents and expensive machines that take hours to provide results. “In the US, the FDA has authorized some antigen tests for emergency use, with the FDA saying they can be administered to millions of Americans every day due to their simpler design, which can help better identify infection rates instantaneously. “I also welcome confirmation from the Taoiseach recently that a close contact of a confirmed case will be able to arrange their own test online which is significant and can speed up the process of contact tracing.”