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Small business group ISME blasts NPHET’s “unscientific” view on antigen tests

ISME, the organisation representing small and medium enterprises in Ireland, has written to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to express their concern with recent health authorities’ dismissal of rapid antigen testing, arguing that their objections are “not based on science.”

In the letter, ISME hit out strongly at assertions made by Chief Medical Officer and NPHET chair Tony Holohan, as well as advisor to the government Professor Philip Nolan, who both claimed that rapid antigen tests were ineffective.

“The utility of rapid antigen testing in the workplace has been clearly described by experts in the WHO, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States, and by the ECDC,” said ISME’s CEO, Neil McDonnell.

“If NPHET is privy to scientific advice contrary to the guidance of these bodies, it should publish it immediately. Thousands of businesses are taking steps to introduce antigen testing in their own workplaces, unsupported by the government. The efficacy of these workplace testing regimes would be greatly enhanced if businesses had positive guidance from the HSE.

“We believe it is now time for the Minister for Health to ask why some members of NPHET continue to exhibit such an animus towards rapid antigen testing in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence to the contrary; and also to consider how reliable the advices of NPHET are when they are so demonstrably wrong on this issue.”

The letter, which CC’s Táinaiste and Minister for Enterprise Leo Varadkar, as well as a variety of other ministers and government officials, argues that NPHET’s objection to antigen tests is “not grounded in science.”

“These attacks on antigen testing, verbalised to the press corps and on social media, are not grounded in science, and evidently reflect only the personal opinions of individual members of NPHET… NPHET has continued to reiterate only the (well-known) relative shortcomings of antigen testing, rather than the scientifically established advantages of widespread testing.

“We ask you and your cabinet colleagues to consider, therefore, how much longer you can afford to indulge the cavalier press conference and social media musings of those members of NPHET who have departed so radically and inexplicably from established scientific and public health guidance on antigen testing. Ireland no longer has the luxury of entertaining glib, flippant and scientifically ignorant ruminations of NPHET members.”

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