Leaving the market to subsidise antigen tests is the wrong move
Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith said the apparent decision of government to abandon subsidies for antigen tests will leave people behind in our COVID response and has reiterated his call on government to subsidise the tests to ensure those who are struggling to make ends meet can access them for free.
Deputy Smith said:
“I was shocked to hear Minister Donnelly say subsidised antigen tests are now no longer needed as the market has taken care of it. This is absolutely not the case, antigen tests have an important role to play in protecting people and identifying asymptomatic cases, they must be subsidised. At this stage it seems that government policy is being decided on an adhoc basis.
“Last week the Taoiseach, in a response to me, said he believes there is a role for regular usage of antigen tests in the home into the new year. If so, we need certainty of supply and genuine affordability including measures to ensure those struggling to make ends meet can access them for free.
“We know that antigen tests are a crucial tool in our armory against Covid, particularly at this time of year when the reality is that people want to visit friends and family. We need to empower people to introduce antigen tests as part of their regular life. However, the cost of antigen tests is simply too expensive for many.
“For the Minister for Health to say the market has effectively subsidised these tests is genuinely unbelievable. This needs to be addressed by government as a priority. The next few days and weeks are increasingly uncertain, we need to ensure that people have the fundamentals in place to protect themselves, their families and their friends.”