The HSE is reviewing how Covid-19 testing capacity can be expanded according to the head of the National Virus Reference Laboratory.
Since May, the country has been able to do 100,000 tests a week.
However that figure hasn't ever been reached, with 88,000 completed in the last seven days.
There are concerns however with the rise of case numbers across Europe stocks of the reagent to carry out the test may be in short supply.
Dr Cillian De Gascun says there
"We do know that all of the manufacturers will be under pressure in this coming winter."
"The HSE has done a huge amount of great work in the last few months, engaging with manufacturers.
"But we have been told to a certain degree that, they'll have a finite number of tests that they can provide to us on the various platforms we have available."
What Are The Other Options?
Speaking today, Dr De Gascun said work is underway to explore other options.
Those include grouping test samples together, and only exploring them further if the pool tests positive.
"So there are a couple of options, we can look at some alternative platforms, which work is being done in that respect."
"We could look at I suppose getting more bang for our buck, and pooling samples."
"So that you can get maybe between four and six results from a single test, and then if you find a positive pool then you go back and break that open."
"Now that's only really ideal in the setting of a very low prevalence, so that's not ideal for patients with symptoms."
"But it's certainly something we can consider."
"Then the alternative is to look at different test types, again that work is ongoing.
"People may have heard a lot of discussion along the lines of antigen testing or lamp technology that could be able to give us additional capacity."
"At the moment our primary laboratory based infrastructure is based on PCR."
If you have symptoms strongly suggestive of COVID-19 and your tests shows ‘not detected’, or your doctor has other reasons to suspect you may really have SARS-CoV-2, they will repeat the test; it is vital that testing has proper clinical oversight and interpretation. 9/10
— Professor Philip Nolan (@President_MU) September 26, 2020
Covid Tests - 100,000 A Week The Target For April, May
Dr. De Gascun says there was never a definitive ceiling on the number of tests which could be carried out:
"As we're about to go into the winter, we may need additional capacity."
"That's something that the HSE is looking at."
"I suppose 100,000 was never considered necessarily a definitive ceiling."
"It was always I suppose an initial target that we wanted to get to on the basis of where the numbers where around April, May time."
"If it needs to increase, it can."