Government halts plan to subsidise antigen tests because “market” has sorted it
The plan "very quickly became unnecessary" thanks to pharmacies and supermarkets selling inexpensive tests, says Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
The Government has abandoned plans to subsidise antigen tests for the general public after pharmacies and supermarkets beat it to the punch, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
As a result, there is no further need for Government intervention, it would seem.
Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on Monday, Donnelly responded to the suggestion that subsidising antigen testing had "fallen off the agenda a little bit" by putting a positive spin on the situation.
"Well, actually it's very good news," he began.
"It very quickly became unnecessary. What was important to me was three things on antigen testing – that they were being widely used, that they're being properly used and that they're affordable.
"My concern was that at €8 a test, which was broadly what they had been retailing at, that for far too many people that's simply not affordable," Donnelly added.
"But since we have been looking at the subsidisation, the prices have fallen. McCauley's pharmacy, for example, are selling them at €3. Some of the supermarkets are selling them at €3.99. I heard of one retailer yesterday who is selling them at €1.50.
"So, we have managed to achieve the price reduction without having to get into spending taxpayer's money on a subsidisation."
Asked if subsidisation is categorically "gone", Donnelly said that "the market has done it itself – it's happened without having to spend taxpayer's money on it, so it's been a good result".
The Minister for Health has also indicated that the first cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 have likely been detected in Ireland.
Speaking to Virgin Media News on Monday afternoon, Donnelly said there are "more than 10" possible cases of the variant in the country, subject to genome sequencing.
Featured Image of Stephen Donnelly via Julien Behal / RollingNews.ie