Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health David Cullinane TD has criticised the Government’s ‘penny pinching’ approach to the pandemic and has re-iterated calls for antigen tests to be made freely available.
Teachta Cullinane said that the low market price of individual tests was not a reason to forego a subsidy. He said that lower prices meant that it is even cheaper than initially thought to make antigen tests freely available, and that only a free scheme will encourage high usage in asymptomatic households which would be faced with an otherwise prohibitive cost.
Teachta Cullinane said:
“Antigen tests need to be made freely available for asymptomatic people, alongside instructions for proper usage. It was deeply disappointing to hear the Minister roll back on a subsidy.
“It is important that antigen testing is made convenient for asymptomatic people to use on a regular basis.
“The cost of this can be prohibitive for many households, especially those grappling with the surging cost of living who are already making tough choices or where someone is out of work due to the pandemic.
“The fact that the cost of individual tests has fallen means that making them free would be less expensive than previously thought – that is not a reason to forego a subsidy, but quite the opposite.
“Antigen tests must be provided as an essential public health intervention with access guaranteed by the State, not fluctuating market prices.
“The Government is penny pinching while we are reaching the height of this wave of the pandemic. We have seen the same on HEPA filters for schools. This is ensuring that schools and workplaces will continue to be riskier environments than they should be.
“The rollout of free antigen tests must be accompanied by clear guidance on when and how to use them, along with wider availability of PCR testing to ensure that symptomatic people can avail of a PCR test.”