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14th April 2021  Author: Paul Carton

Advisory Group to Irish Gov Say Urgent Overhaul of COVID-19 Testing Program is Needed

A COVID-19 scientific advisory group set up by the Irish Government has returned with a majority vote to implement rapid antigen testing immediately in the wider community and that only lower Ct values (higher viral loads) should be reported as positive cases. 

The 'Report of the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Group' (published on 1 April 2021) expects the general public to ignore any further lockdown restrictions once the vaccine is rolled out and recommends rapid testing and increased ventilation should be prioritized.

The advisory group also called for EU leaders to accelerate the regulatory approval of LAMP-based tests, some of which already have EUA status from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

These molecular tests, based on isothermal amplification of nucleic acid, are seen by the advisory group as a cost-efficient, rapid test that can be performed in the field without lab equipment and has comparable diagnostic accuracy to the gold standard RT-qPCR test.

However, since this report was published, there has been a recommendation from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to not vaccinate the general public with the Astra Zeneca vaccine due to rare cases of blood clotting and to only give it to those over 60 years of age (members of the community who have a greater risk of health complications if infected with SARS-CoV-2). It is expected that this delay in immunizing the general public will affect the implementation of widespread rapid testing in Ireland. 



Date Published: 14th April 2021

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