Fast antigen tests available next week
Pharmacies could have do-it-yourself coronavirus antigen tests for sale by next week.
The kits will allow residents to screen for the bug at home with results ready in as little as 20 minutes.
Tamara Richardson, the vice-president for sales and operations at People’s Pharmacy in Hamilton, said yesterday: “Tests are en route to Bermuda as we speak and, barring any delays in the shipping process, we anticipate having them for sale by next week.
“We have a growing wait-list and will notify those on the list first of availability before opening to wider sales.”
Ms Richardson added said that the pharmacy would have three options for customers.
They include antigen rapid tests which allow users to take swab samples from the nose or mouth.
Ms Richardson said that the Indicaid Covid-19 rapid antigen test, which uses nasal swabs, was "a slightly more expensive single pack“.
She explained that was because it has emergency use authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration as well as European Union and European Economic Area certification.
Ms Richardson said that the prices have yet to be set but she expected that one of the kits will be sold for less than $20.
They said the kits were a rapid screening tool and a positive result should be followed up with the established PCR test.
Ms Richardson said: “We believe we can use these tests both to support government initiatives and ultimately ensure that the Covid sites are not overwhelmed.
“These will also empower individuals to know their status much like other diagnostic tests we carry – pregnancy, drug panel tests and so on.
“These would prove useful for all essential services, to ensure that medical professionals and support teams remain able to work.”
Ms Richardson added: “I strongly believe schools, and by default parents, could be in the driver’s seat of measuring their student body’s readiness for in-person learning with a guided testing strategy using these rapid tests.”
She said that, at her daughter’s school in Massachusetts, “all students were tested on arrival and had results within 15 minutes”.
Ms Richardson added: “This gave the campus a baseline that all arriving students were negative, and allowed them to open with relative ease.
“Subsequent weekly testing keeps their campus safe and allows them to isolate and pinpoint any positives to specific bubbles.
“The bottom line is that allowing rapid detection will empower us, and potentially prevent further mass spread and disruptions.”
She said: “The tests yield results in 15 to 20 minutes and would enable those people suffering from hay fever, for example, to test before leaving their homes and be confident that their symptoms, although like Covid, are not.
“This will prove vital as we head into the cold and flu season – we can't afford to have people off work as they wait 48 hours for negative results.”
A member of staff at the Par la Ville Pharmacy, also Hamilton, said the shop was also expected to have the tests available next week.
An article on the website of the Cleveland Clinic, a leading US hospital, said antigen tests could be taken at home or administered by a doctor with a result in about 20 minutes.
The article said the tests looked for antigens – proteins produced by the virus that sparked a response by the body’s immune system – similar to tests for strep throats.