Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.03 31 Mar 2021


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A public health expert has said the Government missed an opportunity to re-open some businesses by using rapid antigen testing.

It comes after an expert group, convened by the Government, has been split on the role of rapid antigen testing in suppressing COVID-19.

Paul Moynagh is professor of immunology and director of the Kathleen Lonsdale Institute for Human Health Research at Maynooth University.

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He told Newstalk Breakfast such tests would compliment existing ones.

"I think there's a lot of urgency attached to this, I think we've been really, really slow in terms of adopting other forms of testing beyond PCR.

"The PCR test is an excellent test - really sensitive, really specific - but it can't serve all our needs.

"The rapid antigen testing, other forms of rapid testing, they're there to compliment the PCRs - especially in terms of screening protocols."

Prof Moynagh said he would have liked to see the test being used to re-open some businesses.

"Even yesterday I think an opportunity was lost as we announced looking forward to the lifting of restrictions.

"Most of those restrictions are relatively low-risk, but I think we probably could begin to look at lifting some of the restrictions.

"Maybe getting some of the businesses opened again where there is increased risk, but putting in place strategies like rapid testing to mitigate some of those risks."

'I can see both sides'

And Prof Moynagh said he could not understand why there is a split in the expert group.

"On that committee we had our top scientists and clinicians in the area of infectious diseases... and they're really important voices, and I think they're voices that should be heard."

On changes to the vaccine priority list, which would be based on age, he said: "I can see both sides.

"Some people may ask if some groups were prioritised three months ago based on increased risk why are they not prioritised now?

"When you give something, in this case a priority listing, it's very difficult to take that away.

"And I have sympathy for groups, especially family carers and various other groups.

"But we're getting to the stage now where based on age, and age is probably the major risk factor.

"Initially we looked at prioritising based on risk of disease, serious illness and death - we covered most of them now, or in the next number of weeks we will have.

"And now we want to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible".

'Opportunity was lost' to open businesses using rapid antigen testing - Moynagh

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

Main image: A COVID-19 rapid antigen test, which can have results in 15 minutes, is seen in the Netherlands. Picture by: Utrecht Robin/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

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Lifting Restrictions Newstalk Breakfast Paul Moynagh Rapid Antigen Testing Re-opening Businesses Vaccine Priority

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