Irish Chief medical officer Tony Holohan urged to explain antigen testing opposition – The Times

Dr Tony Holohan is at odds with the chief scientific adviser over antigen testing BRIAN LAWLESS/PA

Dr Tony Holohan, the chief medical officer, has been called on to appear before a Dail committee to explain his opposition to the use of antigen testing.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has continuously objected to the use of the rapid tests among the general public. The tests are used in numerous EU countries, and Dr Mark Ferguson, the government’s chief scientific adviser, has authored a report advocating their use.

A meeting of the Oireachtas transport committee yesterday heard from numerous experts advocating their use, and ended with a call for Holohan to explain his opposition to them.

Kieran O’Donnell, Fine Gael TD and committee chairman, said: “We reiterate our invite to CMO Dr Tony Holohan and his colleagues to come in before us. We’ll be following up with them.

“This is a matter that requires public discussion on a factual basis to justify why antigen testing has not been used. From what we’ve heard here today, it would make an enormous difference.”

The committee heard from Dr Michael Mina, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, who said there has been “confusion” surrounding the use of antigen testing, not only in Ireland, but around the world.

He argued that, in some cases, they could prove more effective than PCR testing, which is the test most widely used and accepted in Ireland.

He said the 50 percent sensitivity rate associated with antigen tests has to be considered in the wider context of what the goal of testing is.

Mina said: “If you are attempting to limit spread, then the speed of getting a result back is much more critical than getting every ounce of sensitivity to detect the RNA of the virus.”

Courtesy: The Times UK