Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: -2°C
Alamy Stock Photo

'Huge increase' in antigen tests sold as Covid-19 cases rise again

There has been a steady increase in cases of Covid-19 in recent weeks.

THERE HAS BEEN a surge in the number of antigen tests being sold in pharmacies in recent weeks, pharmacists say, as Covid-19 case numbers continue to rise.

Additionally, an unusually high number of people with cold and flu-like symptoms have been presenting in pharmacies this summer.

The Chief Medical Officer has warned of the Eris variant, a new strain of the virus that has been doing the rounds.

Pharmacist Brian Tynan has seen a “huge increase” in people purchasing antigen tests.

His pharmacy, Phelan’s in Waterford City, has run out of single tests and can now only acquire five-packs from the main supplier due to the recent surge in demand.

“Over the period at the start of the summer, so you could say from May, June, there would’ve been little or no Covid tests being sold,” he said.

“I would say we’re almost back to levels we would’ve had in and around Christmas time in terms of the number of sales of Covid tests.”

A spokesperson for Boots Ireland told The Journal that the chain has seen an increase in sales.

A pharmacy in Dublin confirmed that it is experiencing a surge too.

As of today, there are 397 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in hospitals, with 15 of those in ICU yesterday.

The latest figures show that there were 305 cases of Covid-19, confirmed by PCR testing, as of last Tuesday, 15 August. 

A further 488 were confirmed by antigen tests.

Margaret O’Doherty, a pharmacist in Donegal, says earlier this year, antigen test sales had “practically stopped”, but she is now seeing a “big upsurge”.

“One day you sort of looked and went ‘oh dear, where are they all gone?’,” she said.

“A few weeks ago, sort of over a few days everybody started asking about Covid tests, doing Covid tests, talking about friends that had Covid.”

O’Doherty’s pharmacy hasn’t experienced a supply shortage yet.

“Maybe we just happened to buy at the right time.”

Colds and flus

The number of people seeking treatment for colds and flus is “certainly more than you would expect this time of year”, O’Doherty said.

“Normally July and August would be a quiet time, but not only are people coming in asking for cough bottles over the counter, we’d also have quite a lot of prescriptions for people with respiratory problems – antibiotics and steroids going out that you wouldn’t expect to see this time of year.

“It is absolutely a concern”, she said, as many symptomatic people come into the pharmacy without first taking an antigen test.

Tynan agreed that, since the mask mandate was lifted, the number of people with coughs and colds has “gone up hugely”, with non-Covid-related viral infections rampant.

O’Doherty says her pharmacy may need to reintroduce measures to protect staff and customers.

“I would be looking at maybe wearing masks again,” she said.

“It’s hard to know how you’re going to protect staff. Obviously we don’t want our staff getting ill and we don’t want our staff out.”

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel