People should qualify for updated COVID certs through positive antigen tests, according to Immunology expert Professor Liam Fanning.
Over the weekend, the University of Cork Professor called on the Government to introduce new rules making Booster Certs mandatory for entry to pubs and restaurants.
On Newstalk Breakfast however, he noted that the system would only be fair if people were also able to qualify for updated certs based on positive antigen test results.
The HSE is working on a new system that will allow people to upload positive antigen test results, with CEO Paul Reid telling Newstalk this morning that it could go live this week.
It means people who tested positive but were unable to get a PCR test will be able to register their status.
Professor Fanning said the COVID cert rules should then be updated – with a nine-month limit expiry on vaccine doses and antigen positivity accepted for COVID recovery.
“If we had a national means for documenting your COVID positivity with an antigen test, I would see there would be great value in using the booster cert as a means for getting into those places such as theatres and restaurants where there is social activity – both to protect the staff remember as well as your fellow customers,” he said.
“The boosters, even though they mightn’t protect you from becoming infected, what they do is they shorten the window in which you are likely to be infectious.
“So, this is more about the possibility of reducing infections in social settings and that is what we achieved with the double vaccine cert or the single one for the J&J when we had the certs active last summer and in the early part of the Autumn.
“So, I do think they have a place, but it is going to be difficult to implement because of the absence of an antigen-positive result and your capacity to have that actually added to your history in respect of COVID.”
He said the PCR testing delays mean people who tested positive on an antigen could test negative by PCR by the time they are offered a test.
“Where do you go then?” he asked. “You have no actual official documentation that you were COVID-19 infected so that is going to lead to some difficulties particularly because we have a PCR capacity that is being exceeded at the moment.”
Professor Fanning was speaking as Paul Reid confirmed that the number of patients in hospital has breached 1,000 for the first item since February – although the ICU figure has remained static and currently sits at 82.
Meanwhile, daily case numbers have broken 20,000 for the past four days in a row.
Professor Fanning said “quite a wall of immunity” is building up in the population; however, it is still too early to tell when the current wave might peak.