From top: Kieran O’Donnell; Dr Tony Holohan
Further to a meeting with NPHET yesterday, the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications has “strongly recommended” the immediate roll-out of a rapid antigen testing pilot programme for aviation.
Committee chairman Kieran O’Donnell, a Fine Gael TD, said it appeared as if the Government-commissioned Report of the Covid-19 Rapid Testing Group – known as the Ferguson report – has yet to be fully discussed and considered by NPHET.
Asked on Wednesday about criticism of NPHET’s stance on antigen testing, Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said NPHET has concerns about the use of antigen testing in asymptomatic populations ‘because it isn’t as effective as PCR testing’.
Mr O’Donnell said:
“Our Committee has strongly recommended to the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan that the Government without delay write to and engage directly with Dr Holohan, NPHET and the aviation sector to immediately roll-out a rapid antigen pilot testing programme.
“It is vital that the logistics and ICT systems for mass serial rapid antigen testing are in place and in line with the introduction of the EU Digital COVID Certificate here.
“In their report published nearly three months ago, the Covid-19 Rapid Testing Group recommended that pilot programmes of serial rapid antigen testing commence at scale and at pace across various sectors, including the aviation sector.
“The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications remains of the view that all available Covid-19 testing options must be fully explored as part of the Covid-19 public health toolkit, including rapid antigen testing,”