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The Explainer: What's the story with rapid Covid-19 tests?

On this week’s podcast, we explain more – and producer Nicky Ryan takes an antigen test during recording.

TESTING PLAYS A big part in the fight against Covid-19. But it’s also an area that’s fraught with debate and potential issues.

The tests that are used by health professionals in Ireland are PCR tests. But recently antigen tests – which are rapid Covid-19 tests – went on sale in Lidl. Antigen tests (which are the same as the ‘lateral flow’ tests you might have read about in relation to the UK) give a result quicker than a PCR test, but the accuracy levels are exactly not the same.

While the Government acknowledges that antigen testing is an additional measure in combating Covid-19, it is not a substitute for following public health advice, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said recently.

The official advice is that if a person develops symptoms, they should self-isolate and contact their GP, who will arrange a free PCR test. (Antigen test is used in Ireland – the HSE carries out antigen testing twice per week in meat plants, alongside a monthly PCR test for employees.)

On this week’s episode of The Explainer, our reporter Cónal Thomas explains what antigen tests are, how they work, and why they have been controversial. Plus, producer Nicky Ryan (who also writes our coronavirus newsletter), takes an antigen test on the show and talks you through what it involves. 

The Explainer / SoundCloud

This episode was put together by presenter Sinéad O’Carroll, producers Aoife Barry and Nicky Ryan.

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