The Health Minister has criticised NPHET's modelling expert Professor Philip Nolan for comparing antigen tests to snake oil.
Stephen Donnelly says the comment was unhelpful and antigen testing is a part of Government policy when it comes to reopening.
Supermarket Lidl began selling antigen tests late last week, and has been promoting the take-at-home tests across their social media channels.
In a tweet over the weekend, Professor Philip Nolan - NPHET's main modeling and forecasting expert - compared them to snake oil.
He said antigen tests will not keep people safe.
Can I get some snake oil with that? It makes for a great salad dressing with a pinch of salt and something acerbic. Stay safe when socialising outdoors over the next few weeks. Small numbers, distance, masks. These antigen tests will not keep you safe. https://t.co/CsoTNrpfye
— Professor Philip Nolan (@PhilipNolan_SFI) May 8, 2021
NPHET has long had concerns about the effectiveness of antigen testing, which isn't as reliable as PCR tests.
However, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly today criticised the remarks from Professor Nolan.
He said: "I don't think it was a helpful comment, if I'm honest.
"I have great respect for Professor Nolan, and I have no doubt that his concern was around people using them in the wrong way."
The Government has been promising wider use of antigen testing for months, somewhat held back by the concerns of NPHET.
However, the tests will be used in Catherine Martin's trials of big sporting events and gigs.
A number of prominent experts have also said the tests have a place in the country's pandemic response.
The rapid tests are also expected to be used to allow for the safe return of students to college campuses in September, including in Maynooth - the institution where Professor Nolan is University President.