Lidl Ireland’s CEO, JP Scally, has defended the supermarket chain selling rapid antigen tests in their stores, after selling over 10,000 kits.

According to Scally in an interview with RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, the tests sold out across many Lidl stores over the weekend and proved significantly cheaper than tests elsewhere at €24.99 for a pack of five tests.

Scally alleged that the cheapest tests found elsewhere still cost consumers €10 for one test – double Lidl’s prices – and that he had even seen tests being sold for as much as €100 euro per test online.

“The uptake from staff has been very positive,” he said, adding that Lidl workers were using the tests on themselves once a week and were “delighted” at the extra level of security.

Reportedly, one Lidl staff member tested positive for covid-19 using an antigen test, whereupon he left work and was later found to have covid-19 after a PCR test.

“We have to trust the public that they will use it properly”, said Scally, when asked about comments made by Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan that were critical of the commercial sale of antigen test and the risk of false results. Scally said that 99% of Lidl customers had followed all covid guidelines up until this point, and said that “this will be no different.”

According to the CMO, NPHET is “genuinely very concerned” about the sale of antigen tests, “strongly” advising the public not to buy or use them on the basis that they could “falsely reassure people” and lead to super spreader events.

Chairman of NPHET’s modelling group and advisor to the government, Professor Philip Nolan, called the widespread use of antigen tests “snake oil” over the weekend, adding that “these antigen tests will not keep you safe.”

Notably, Michael Mina, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard’s School of Public Health, replied to tell Nolan he did not “appear to know what [he is] talking about”, and that he should be “ashamed” of his stance on rapid antigen testing.

“For an advisor to your government – you don’t appear to know what you are talking about with regards to rapid tests,” said Mina.

“The comment adds nothing of benefit and further sows confusion. You should be ashamed of your demeanor here.”