European Commission urges use of rapid antigen tests, steps up action on Covid-19 testing

  • 2020-11-19
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The European Commission has urged member states to use rapid antigen tests for the diagnosis of Covid-19 and signed a EUR 35.5 million agreement to scale up Covid-19 testing capacity in the EU, Kristine Liepina, a representative of the European Commission's Representation in Latvia, informed LETA.

She said that the recommendation on the use of rapid antigen tests for the diagnosis of Covid-19 follows the Commission's recommendation on October 28 to ensure a common approach and more efficient testing strategies across the EU. It builds on the guidance developed with EU member states input and expert advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

The recommendation provides guidance on how to select rapid antigen tests, when they are appropriate and who should perform them. It also calls for validation and mutual recognition of tests and their results. 

This comes ahead of EU leaders' virtual meeting on November 19 on the EU response to the Covid-19 pandemic, following the October 29 European Council, where it was agreed to coordinate more on testing methods.

The Commission has also signed an agreement with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) contributing EUR 35.5 million, financed by the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), to scale up Covid-19 testing capacity in the EU. 

The funding will be used to support training of staff for sampling collection and analysis and performance of tests, especially via mobile equipment.

“To increase EU coordination on testing methods, we are today providing guidance to Member States on the use of rapid antigen test to better manage Covid-19 outbreaks. Being efficient on testing also requires having the necessary resources, which is why we are also today stepping up our support to increase Member States testing capacity. Support and solidarity is key to overcome this pandemic," said Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety.

Liepina said that that today's recommendations also provide guidance to member states on the use of rapid antigen tests to detect the virus in specific settings. These include situations where a fast identification of infected individuals supports the management of outbreaks and regular monitoring of high risk groups, such as medical personal or in nursing homes for elderly. 

Member states are encouraged to conduct rapid antigen tests in addition to RT-PCR tests to contain the spread of the virus, detect infections and limit isolation and quarantine measures.