“Over the counter COVID-19 tests”

The Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said that he intends to advise for the prosecution of a Pharmacy that currently sells over the Counter Covid-19 Test Kits.

Trinidad and Tobago: The Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh said that he intends to advise for the prosecution of a Pharmacy that currently sells over the Counter Covid-19 Test Kits.

Social commentator, Lynette Joseph stated yesterday, “Once you can breathe easily, you do not need to spend a fortune testing for Covid-19. But some of us are gullible and have more money than common sense.”

Dr Rishad Seecheran, Member of Parliament, Caroni East asked the question, “Is this an attempt by the Minister of Health and those that may be sympathetic to his performance as a Minister, to reduce the ability of citizens to determine their Covid-19 Status?”

MP Seecheran said that with hundreds of new Positive Covid-19 cases daily and with the death toll rising, the numbers do not paint a pretty picture of the Government’s management of Covid-19. Given the Government’s tidal wave of mistakes, it seems an attempt is being made to artificially reduce the daily tally of new positive cases.

“We are a country with a million syringes but less than 5% of the population partially vaccinated with one dose and less than 1% of the population vaccinated with two doses,” said Caroni East MP.

“We are a country that has allowed the P1 Variant to enter our borders, as we are unable to stem the tide of illegal migrants.”

He accused Prime Minister and said, we are a country where the Prime Minister asked all and sundry to visit Tobago for Easter and then be forced to call a State of Emergency eight weeks later.

Trinidad and Tobago has currently tested 161,000 persons at both public and private facilities. Which is just about 11% of population. According to international statistics, only Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia and China have tested less persons per million in their population.

The World Health Organization sent a clear message to all countries in March 2020, test, test, and test. The more tests that are conducted, the easier it becomes to track the spread of the virus and reduce transmission.

Testing is important for two reasons. It warns the individual person and allows them to protect their family and loved ones. And it provides surveillance that allows us to find out what we can do about the disease from a public health perspective. This is even more crucial with the new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus now spreading rapidly.

Since 15th December 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorization for over-the-counter tests for Covid-19. All major pharmacy chains in the United States currently sell these Covid-19 testing options.

The tests include the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test, the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test and the Pixel by Labcorp PCR Test Home Collection Kit. All three tests, do not require a prescription, and are intended for use by individuals with or without symptoms. These options provide customers with access to convenient testing that can be conducted at home and serves to complement a nation’s commitment to providing their population with access to comprehensive Covid-19 testing services.

By authorizing tests for over the counter, and allowing it to be sold in places like drug stores, where a patient can buy it, run the test and find out their results in as little as 20 minutes, it would expand citizens access to testing, reducing the burden on laboratories and test supplies, and give our citizens more testing options from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Similar to other antigen tests, a small percentage of positive and negative results from this test may be false. Therefore, for patients without symptoms, positive results should be treated as presumptively positive until confirmed by another test as soon as possible. This is especially true if there are fewer infections in a particular community, as false positive results can be more common when antigen tests are used in populations where there is little Covid-19 (low prevalence).

Given the very long wait times currently being experienced for Covid-19 test results in the public sector and the increased load on the authorized private labs, the use of over the counter Covid-19 tests, should be a welcome addition to our arsenal in combating this surge. Every effort must be made to restore health and safety to our nation.

“I hereby make a call on the Minister of Health to immediately make available for importation and commercial retail, the use of FDA authorized Over the Counter Covid-19 Testing Kits, to allow citizens the option of not overburdening the public and private laboratory facilities.”