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04th Jan 2022

Pharmacists warn of antigen test shortage by this week

Ellen Fitzpatrick

It won’t be for long.

The Irish Pharmacy Union has warned that there will be a shortage of antigen tests in Ireland this week as stocks are being awaited.

The secretary general of the Irish Pharmacy Union Darragh O’Loughlin told RTÉ’s Today show that pharmacies are running out of antigen tests and are now putting a limit on how many people can buy.

This comes as there have been record breaking infection rates since Christmas, with the numbers expected to be much higher due to the shortage in PCR tests.

People aged between four and 39 now require a positive antigen test before getting a PCR test.

O’Loughlin has said that antigen test suppliers are now experiencing “phenomenal” demand and are under a lot of pressure for supply not only in Ireland but in the UK, US and Australia.

He added that he understands that there were orders due into Ireland later this week but until then there are shortages expected.

The HSE’s lead on vaccines and contact tracing programmes Damien McCallion said earlier this week that there were sufficient supplies of antigen tests for the month of January and that the situation is being monitored.

He also noted that the number of Omicron cases is “substantially higher” than those recorded through PCR tests and expects that the testing system will remain “under strain” for at least a week.

Hospital figures have risen with the new variant, with HSE chief Paul Reid saying there are now 884 people in hospital with Covid-19, an increase of 80 in the last 24 hours and double the amount seen on Christmas Day.

Picture: Sasko Lazarov/