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Dr Tony Holohan issues stern warning against using antigen tests bought in supermarkets


Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has issued a stern warning against using antigen tests bought in supermarkets.

Dr Holohan said that he is “very concerned” that people will be buying antigen tests alongside “sausages and charcoal ” and holding barbeques without obeying public health advice.

“We’re concerned that somebody could go into a supermarket and buy, for example, you know, a pound of sausages and charcoal for a barbeque and think, great, they don’t have to take to restrictions.

“That represents a real risk to our pandemic response,” he added.

The CMO raised concerns about some antigen tests only having approximately 50pc accuracy and that this could see half of cases being missed.

“These tests, if they’re not used properly if they’re not used in very strictly controlled circumstances, have little role to play.

“The risk that we see if that it falsely reassures people because they are negative tests when an individual might in fact have the disease, we might have a real risk of transmission occurring,” he said.

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He said that people are “genuinely confused” about antigen testing and that they can be useful but only in “strictly controlled” situations.

“We think antigen testing has a role to play in response to the pandemic but in strictly controlled circumstances.”

Yesterday, Lidl announced that it will sell five antigen tests for €24.99 stores nationwide from today.

Dr Holohan said that supermarkets are “free to sell whatever they wish”.

He also gave the example of having an indoor wedding, where transmission risk is high. He said that if someone tested negative for Covid when they had in fact contracted the disease, the wedding could turn into a “superspreader” event.

Dr Holohan urged people to not use the tests.

“We’re genuinely concerned about the inappropriate use of antigen testing.

“We’re strongly advising people don’t buy these and use them,” he told reporters this afternoon.

The government is currently considering piloting mass gathering events where 5pc capacity of spectators could attend a match in a stadium, where antigen testing would form a key part.

Under these pilots, spectators could return as early as July.

Dr Holohan said that all methods will be examined to see a return to these events “as quickly as reasonably and as we safely can”.

In a statement, Lidl Ireland said that their employees have been offered a free weekly antigen test since April.

The supermarket said that the tests, which are now sold in stores, should be used along with public health advice.

“Having initially secured enough of these tests for our team, we are now pleased to offer these in our stores for customers, with the hope that they will add an extra level of reassurance as they continue to follow the public health advice. This has been outlined in all our communication on the tests, as well as in the manufacturer instructions,” said a spokesperson.

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