A pilot trialing the use of antigen Covid-19 tests in the context of international travel should begin as early as next week, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Regina Doherty said “With our skies opening up in a months’ time, and the EU skies even sooner, we have to very quickly prepare to facilitate safe international travel into Ireland. Most other EU countries are ready to deploy antigen tests to reopen their borders, yet we are still lagging behind.
“This week, it was confirmed that the Minister for Transport wrote to the Chief Medical Officer back in April to request advice on an antigen test pilot. Unfortunately, due to the cyber-attack, the CMO says he never got the letter but endorsed the proposal as a ‘good idea’.
“With the support of both the Minister for Transport and the CMO, approval must now urgently be given to airlines to begin a pilot run of antigen testing to facilitate international travel. There are no barriers to stop this from happening as early as next week and we owe it to the people employed in the sector not to delay this any further.
“The pilot, with antigen testing within 24 hours before the flight and a PCR test 5 days after the flight, as already mandated, on the Dublin-Heathrow route could be easily and quickly implemented once the go-ahead is given.
“Comparison of the results from these passengers, with that of passengers from pre and post PCR flights will provide the evidence needed to say whether antigen can be used as we reopen our skies next month.
“This is much more about holidays, as much as we all might want and deserve one. This is about reunification of families, letting grannies visit new grandchildren, and saving the hundreds of thousands of jobs reliant on aviation and tourism in this country” concluded Senator Doherty.