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Antigen tests are free already in ‘many circumstances’ – Harris


Higher Education Minister Simon Harris

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris

Higher Education Minister Simon Harris

Simon Harris has said that many people are already getting antigen tests for free.

Speaking at Dublin Castle, the Higher Education Minister said that college students and staff, close contacts and nursing homes already get the tests for free.

“I would point out that they are free in many circumstances, we’re not charging the students and staff, we’re not charging the close contacts, there isn’t a cost as far as I know in the nursing homes.

“Whether you do that more broadly is a matter for the Minister for Health to bring advice forward to the Government,” he said.

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He said that from Monday, antigen tests will also be distributed to schools and that antigen tests are a “significant part” of Ireland’s “national toolkit”.

He was speaking following a subsidised antigen test proposal from the Department of Health was pulled last minute from this morning’s Cabinet meeting.

He said that Minister Donnelly will finalise subsidised antigen test proposals.

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“In relation to antigen, there is a final decision needed in relation to the cost and the subsidy and I’ve no doubt the Minister for Health will bring that shortly.”

“We need to move quickly on that but we also need to get it right, it needs to be logical and it needs to be fair,” he said.

Minister Harris said that 25,000 rapid tests have been conducted across UCD, TCD, NUI Galway and UCC universities alone.

He also said that he would like to see the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) advice on a booster for people who received the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“It is my view that a widespread booster programme is inevitable,” he said.

“With the declining case numbers in the over 80s, that is a cause of huge hope and optimism.

“Niac will no doubt provide more advice, the one I would be very interested to see quite quickly is around J&J, because people that have gotten one dose, there’s growing evidence that they may require a booster shot.”

He said that there are “positive signs” that incidence is falling in people over the age of 70 and that there is now a “huge, huge effort now to get jabs in arms and quick as possible” by Government.

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