Don't buy Covid-19 tests online, warns public health agency

Don't buy Covid-19 tests online, warns public health agency
Covid-19 test kits bought online are no coordinated by the HSE and results may be inaccurate. Stock photo

People are being warned against buying Covid-19 tests online or from any other retailers.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority — the State agency whose role is to protect public health — says the tests may not be accurate or the results may be misinterpreted.

The HPRA says it is aware of several commercial tests for Covid-19 on offer in Ireland that are not coordinated by the HSE and are not in line with the national testing strategy.

Here, the national testing strategy for Covid-19 involves testing symptomatic individuals and contacts. Results of the tests — which are free of charge — are reported centrally for monitoring, surveillance and contact tracing purposes.

As well as emphasising the importance of following the national testing strategy, the HPRA is warning about the potential risks involved in seeking commercially available tests. It says that some commercial tests involve self-swabbing where the patient uses a swab to collect their own throat and nose sample. The swab is sent to a laboratory and then returned directly to the person’s home.

“Collecting a good swab sample for Covid-19 testing can be difficult. If the sample is not collected properly, the test result may not be accurate,” the HPRA warns.

It also points out that commercial antibody testing involves the testing of blood and that such tests cannot be used to diagnose a current infection and may be misinterpreted.

“An incorrect or misinterpreted result may give rise to an individual failing to seek the necessary medical help. During this time, the individual may unknowingly spread the virus or their illness might progress.” 

The HPRA is urging people who are concerned they may have Covid-19 to contact their GP immediately.

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