What a bunch of clowns! NPHET are allegedly the Covid “experts” in Ireland and a Dr Tony Holohan, aka Chief Medical Officer, and a Prof Philip Nolan, who heads the statisticians and modellers that tried to predict the spread of the Coronavirus, are two of NPHET’s main voices. And both have been declared as incompetent by people that know a lot more about a subject Holohan and Nolan felt they needed to give their unqualified opinion about.
The subject is Antigen Self-Tests, which are inexpensive tests for home use that many experts and government organisations see for a long time as a key instrument to stop the spread of Covid. A test costs just EUR 5 and will tell you if you are infectious (something the PCR test can’t tell!) within about 15 minutes.
In Germany the Department of Health has negotiated with suppliers to secure the availability of 130 million self tests. Self-tests are now available through pharmacies and also in supermarkets and it is recommended to test at least twice a week.
Self-tests are made available for free in the UK and, for example, parents of school kids are asked to test themselves and their kids regularly because self-tests are an essential part of the pandemic strategy. You can order up to 2 packs of 7 at a time online for free on a government website and per week around 28 mio tests are given out.
The Centre of Disease control in the USA said on 07 May that U.S.-bound international air travelers can meet COVID-19 entry requirements using self-tests. (www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/cdc-says-us-bound-travelers-can-use-some-self-covid-19-tests-2021-05-07/)
And the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) is recommending that rapid antigen testing can help reduce the spread of the virus in high-risk indoor workplaces and should be used to complement other tests. (www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/news-events/stop-spread-could-diagnostic-antigen-tests-help-control-covid-19-transmission)
Closer to home, the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, Professor Mark W. J. Ferguson, is heading the “COVID-19 Rapid Testing Group”, that was put together by the Irish Government. And this group already said on 19 March 2021 in the section “Start Immediately” that “It is very important to initiate rapid testing programmes now.” The report looks at the all aspects of rapid tests and clearly comes to the conclusion that rapid tests, which includes self-tests, should be made available in Ireland to complement all other measures. www.gov.ie/en/publication/f50f0-report-of-the-covid-19-rapid-testing-group/
This report has been published by the government and is definitely available to NPHET, but they seemingly can’t read:
On Fri 07 May, in the daily “NPHET show” (which should have been stopped by the government a long long time ago.) Tony Holohan warned against the use of antigen tests and he went so far to even say that consumers should not buy antigen testing kits due to the risk of false results and amazingly, Holohan claimed “Their use poses a “real risk” to the pandemic response.” So CDC, ECDC, German and UK Health Ministers are supporting what poses a “real risk” to the pandemic response?? (www.irishtimes.com/news/health/nphet-warns-public-against-relying-on-antigen-tests-being-sold-in-supermarkets-1.4558458)
On 08 May, then Philip Nolan claimed in a tweet that Covid Self-tests are “snake oil”, which is even worse than saying they are useless and which also is totally incorrect and actually a dangerous statement. (twitter.com/President_MU/status/1391095650750709769?s=20)
Clearly Holohan and Nolan are either wiser than international experts… or they are incompetent clowns!
To help us assess this, let’s listen to Professor Dr. Michael Mina, an Epidemiologist, Immunologist and Physician at Harvard Public Health/Medical School. He replied to Philip Nolan’s tweet and has this opinion:
“For an advisor to your government – you don’t appear to know what you are talking about wrt rapid tests. […] You should be ashamed of your demeanor here.”
Irish Journalist Philip Nolan (same name, but different person than the misguided Professor) commented on the tweet with “My sister in the UK had five sent to her by the NHS. Is the NHS a snake-oil sales organisation, or are you just pissed off a supermarket is doing more than you are?”
With all facts considered, the tweet by Prof Philip Nolan was incompetent, ignorant and arrogant. This tweet and Tony Holohan’s warning to stay away from these tests reveals that the two “leading experts” in Ireland either have no clue or – and that would be worse – have a vested interest in only recommending PCR tests.
Nobody would claim that the self-tests are perfect but nobody is either suggesting that they shouldn’t be anything else but a COMPLEMENT to other strategies. And as such a complement, NPHET should help educating the public about their use and how best to use these tests and NOT use their personal aversion to inappropriately disparage these tests.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Tanaiste Leo Varadkar would be well advised in replacing Tony Holohan and Philip Nolan after this revelation of clear incompetence and instead trust people like the Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government Professor Mark W. J. Ferguson.
And to give a little bit more detail about what Holohan and Nolan got so upset about:
Supermarket chain Lidl is selling Rapid Antigen self-tests since this week. The tests are manufactured by Xiamen Boson Biotech Co and are called “Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Card” with CE mark and with completed validation studies carried out in Germany. They are in the EU’s list of approved tests (ec.europa.eu/health/sites/default/files/preparedness_response/docs/covid-19_rat_common-list_en.pdf) and have an impressive 93.8% sensitivity and a 100% specificity.
The tests are available in Lidl Ireland for about EUR 25 for 5 tests.
Update (10 May):
With additional posts, Prof Dr Michael Mina has made an attempt per Twitter to school Philip Nolan on the meaning of “test sensitivity”, on the shortfalls of PCR tests and on the importance to detect infectiousness in a public health context. But he also is sensing something MUCH MUCH more relevant. In his last tweet he wrote “Your comments are squarely at odds with the science and appear to instead be motivated by something else.” (twitter.com/michaelmina_lab/status/1391636626250604546?s=20)
Now Health Minister Stephen Donnelly just HAS to step in and take action!