There is a need for clarity from the Government to fully explain the reason behind the long delays in testing for Covid 19 in order to respond effectively to this health crisis and to maintain public confidence in the ‘Test and Trace’ strategy, according to Róisín Shortall TD, Social Democrats Co-leader.

Deputy Shortall said:

“While it is being stated that the reason for the delays is down to a shortage of the reagent used for analysing test samples, we need to know the exact reason for this shortage and the steps that are being taken to overcome these difficulties or to source alternative supplies.

“The reagent has been described as a proprietary material and if that is the case we should know who owns it and why it is not being made available in the fight against this pandemic. It would be shocking and wholly unacceptable if commercial interests were taking precedence over saving lives.

“We also need to be told about possible alternative reagents such as the promising research in Cork and the likely quantities that might become available. Are there other potential sources that could become available and are all possible avenues being pursued?

“The Test and Trace strategy is central to this country’s response to Covid 19 but if a key element of that strategy, the capacity to process tests, is not working, then the strategy is severely undermined.

“In view of the fact that over 50 test centres have been established and large numbers of personnel have been mobilised for testing and tracing, it is imperative that the sourcing of the reagent becomes the number one priority for Government.

“The absence of adequate testing also raises questions about the data being used in respect of prevalence and reproduction of the virus; accuracy and real time data is essential to us having a clear picture of the progress of the virus.”

10th April 2020

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