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Unambitious approach to antigen testing will limit reopening – Doherty

16th June 2021 - Regina Doherty

The lack of ambition and overly cautious approach to the use of antigen testing will leave Ireland behind and limit our reopening, Fine Gael Senators have said.

Fine Gael Senators Jerry Buttimer, Emer Currie, John McGahon, Barry Ward, Aisling Dolan, Maria Byrne, Seán Kyne, Garret Ahearn and Regina Doherty met with Dr. Michael Joseph Mina, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, earlier today.

Speaking following Dr. Mina’s presentation, Senator Regina Doherty said, “Not using all tools available to assist with our reopening, despite overwhelming positive international evidence, could greatly hamper our ability to get back to normal over the coming months.

“It is incredibly unambitious to purposely choose not to use the tool of rapid antigen testing, alongside all other public health measures, to assist with our reopening.

“The inference here is that if people receive a ‘not detected’ antigen result, they might take more risks or ignore other public health guidance. If the same blunt approach was taken in other walks of life, would we even have seat belts in our cars?

“Despite objections, what is clear is that an antigen test is better than no test, especially when regularly used, such as in schools across England where many students are tested twice weekly.

“Our goal in re-opening must be to remove opportunity for the virus to transmit. The speed and accuracy of antigen tests allows us to quickly shut down any transmission by asymptomatic people.

“One of Dr. Mina’s strongest point was that the use of all of these tools available to us, including antigen testing, could completely the remove for lockdowns, even in areas with localized outbreaks.

“While PCR is a strong diagnostic tool that has obviously served us well over the last year, the expansion of antigen test alongside our PCR system is something to be excited about, and something that could open up significant opportunities. Further delay in this area will become truly scandalous,” Senator Doherty concluded.

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