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‘We should be doing more antigen testing,’ says immunologist

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The rolling out of antigen testing is “slow” and Ireland “should be doing more” to introduce the rapid tests, an immunologist has stated.

Dr John MacSharry, from the school of medicine at University Cork College is involved in the pilot programme on antigen testing at universities.

That programme was initiated in July at UCC, UCD, Trinity College, and NUI Galway.

Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has been in favour of antigen testing at third level institutions. And this screening was due to be ramped up by this month.

“We are doing a pilot on the antigen test,” Dr MacSharry told Newstalk.

“The antigen group are doing a lot in the background, training and they’re developing an app which should be out next week.

“The logistics are slow, putting everything together.

“They (the HSE) are using antigen tests in hospitals and high risk sites, on a small scale.”

Dr MacSharry said it was hoped that the public could have antigen tests at home to check their

symptoms.

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“If you’re positive, you scan them (results) into an app, to keep track of it.”

Dr MacSharry said Ireland had initially been cautious regarding antigen testing but he believed this needed to change.

“There was concern that people were using antigen tests and saying ‘I’m clear’ and going out.

“I don’t know if we are left behind (compared to Europe). People were wary, it only tells you if you’re infectious…

“I agree we should be using antigen testing more, using them at home and loading up to the HSE test and trace.

“We should be doing more antigen testing. There’s really easy front of the nose (tests), they are much easier to use but it’s (about) correctly using them.

“As far as I know the HSE have a contingency for rapid testing.”

Dr MacSharry also said tests were being carried out on saliva testing, which could in theory, help children in school be tested to ensure classes are kept up-and-running.

“The saliva test has been proven to be very effective,” he said.


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