With more of us interacting with others for the first time in a long time, many of us are considering having some antigen tests to hand at home due to the recent rise in Covid-19 case numbers.
The tests currently retail at €6-8 each, depending on where you go, though the government is considering subsidies for the rapid-testing kits to make them more accessible.
Took an antigen test yesterday for first time as have been using a lot of public transport travelling. It cost me €7.95 in my local pharmacy. This cost is completely prohibitive for most. We must have subsidised affordable antigen tests to encourage people to use them #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/0UezSOpmcN— Cllr Elisa O'Donovan (@elisaodonovan) November 14, 2021
While they're no substitute for a more accurate PCR test where symptoms present, they're handy for checking yourself on the go, especially if you do a lot of travel or public-facing work - and knowing when to take immediate measures if one comes up positive.
Until they're more widely available at retail, they're starting to get a little thin on the ground, especially with NPHET recommending twice-weekly testing for those going to their physical places of work - here's where to look.
Pharmacies up and down the country will have both testing kits and in-house testing on offer - though availability in the current circumstances for testing kits varies from shop to shop, of course.
Going away for the night with a friend so doing an antigen test before we meet. Went to 2 pharmacies - both out of stock 🙃 Got one in a garage for EIGHT euro. Free in the UK 🙃 Like…. Should there not be a price limit on them so people are more encouraged to use them?— James Kavanagh (@JamesKavanagh_) November 14, 2021
Chain pharmacies like Boots and Hickey's are offering antigen tests done by in-house staff, with results available within the hour - with the latter charging €45 for the convenience.
While many outlets and websites have bought Google ads hoping to capitalise on searches and promising much in terms of prices and availability, chemists like McCabe's Pharmacy are more trustworthy sources of stock - though at €8 per test and with no multipacks, price is again a consideration.
Many petrol station chains, such as Circle K, have picked the tests up, and seem to be decently stocked considering the rush, but once again, caveat emptor regarding availability and price.
Another thing to watch out for is the packaging - some outlets are apparently removing them from their boxes and putting them in plastic zip-lock bags, which may be of concern to some.
This was a contentious one early in the Covid crisis, as antigen testing is generally not as accurate as PCR tests, and supermarkets stocking them could have been seen as endorsing quick fixes or risking inaccuracy at the last peak of the virus' spread.
Lidl began selling the kits in May, to a mixed response, doing packs of 5 for €25 - you can get all the info on that here. They have since introduced single antigen tests for €2.99 each.
Aldi has since followed suit, with tests retailing at €4 apiece and bargain retailer Mr Price is selling them for €2.99 each too.
As availability increases, and with a greater acceptance of antigen tests as a secondary check for Covid-19, expect others to follow suit in the coming weeks, with the usual caveats applying.