The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, has today published the Interim Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Rapid Testing (RTEAG).
The Group, chaired by Professor Mary Horgan, was convened by Minister Donnelly in early July to consider appropriate use of rapid tests in areas that are important to the safe and sustainable reopening of society.
Minister Donnelly said: “I am pleased to today publish the interim report of the EAG on Rapid testing. Rapid testing is already in widespread use across Irish society in areas like long term residential care facilities, meat-processing factories, early childhood settings and in the higher and further education sectors.
“I established this group in early summer to provide further support and assessment opportunities to Government Department’s wishing to roll-out the use of antigen testing in their sectors. The suite of materials published with the report today are a useful tool to anyone wishing to use rapid testing, either for personal use or in a wider programme of testing.
“I would like to thank Professor Horgan and all members of the group for the important and useful work they continue to undertake and look forward to continuing to work with them as Ireland’s public heath response to the pandemic evolves.”
Professor Mary Horgan, Chair of the Rapid Testing Expert Advisory Group said: “The role of the RTEAG is to support the implementation of Rapid Antigen Detection Tests (RADTs) as an additional measure in the public health response to the ongoing pandemic.
“During the course of our work, three main themes emerged: communications with Government Departments on their requirements for RADT use, the development of tools for operational readiness to support use, and the rapid and real-time synthesis of the scientific evidence to guide the appropriate use of tests. The interim report outlines the Group’s comprehensive progress on all of these fronts.
"The use of RADTs is an area in which the scientific evidence is rapidly evolving. As such, the RTEAG has commissioned an evidence synthesis which has informed the interim report and will continue to contribute to our knowledge of RADT use in the coming months. This work will continue to inform the work of the group and any future recommendations we may make.”
Minister Donnelly said: “I have asked Professor Horgan’s Group to further investigate additional areas where it now makes sense to deploy rapid testing, including any input they may have on the use of antigen testing by close contacts which will be implemented shortly.
“This approach aligns with advice I have received from the National Public Health Emergency Team.”
The report is available here.
Terms of Reference
- Support Government departments seeking to deploy rapid tests in their respective sectors.
- Support Government departments in the design and assessment of pilots for their respective stakeholders.
- Provide guidance to Government departments on the use of rapid tests.
- Support Government departments in developing and updating training material for areas/sectors where rapid testing is recommended/advised.
- Support Government departments in developing standard operating procedures for the use of rapid tests in settings where rapid testing is recommended/advised.
- Maintain a list of currently validated tests for guidance.
- Monitor rapid tests in development and those emerging on to the market.
- Communicate the strengths and limitations of rapid tests to the general public.
- Support development of a platform to upload results.
- Prof Mary Horgan, Professor of Infectious Diseases and consultant at Cork University Hospital (Chair of the RT Expert Advisory Group).
- Dr Jeff Connell, Assistant Director, Principal Clinical Scientist at the National Virus Reference Laboratory.
- Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health.
- Prof Pete Lunn, founder and head of the Behavioural Research Unit at the Economic and Social Research Institute.
- Prof Patrick Mallon, Professor of Microbial Diseases at the University College Dublin School of Medicine and a Consultant in Infectious Diseases at St Vincent’s University Hospital.
- Prof Kingston Mills, Professor of Experimental immunology at Trinity College Dublin.
- Niamh O’Beirne, HSE National Lead for Testing and Tracing.
- Prof Patrick O’Mahony, Chair of the Health Information Quality Authority and Chair of the Board of the Irish Medicines Verification Organisation.
- Dr Anna-Rose Prior, Consultant Clinical Microbiologist at Tallaght University Hospital.
- Prof Breda Smyth, Consultant in Public Health Medicine at HSE West