EU scales up rapid antigen testing of Covid-19
The Commission is funding €35.5m to the IFRC to support training of staff and enable mobile teamsEuropost , Brussels
The Commission adopted on Wednesday a recommendation on the use of rapid antigen tests for the Covid-19 diagnosis, following its engagement to ensure a common approach and more efficient testing strategies across the EU.
The guidance to EU governments on how to select rapid antigen tests, when they are appropriate and who should perform them and on mutual recognition of tests' results in the EU was developed with Member States input and expert advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control as a basis.
The recommendation also calls for validation and mutual recognition of tests and their results. This comes ahead of the European Leaders' virtual meeting on 19 November on the EU response to the pandemic, following the 29 October 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 €35.5m, 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.
Testing tells us what the extent of the spread is, where it is, and how it develops, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food safety said noting that it is a decisive tool to slow down the spread of Covid-19. “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,” the commissioner stressed.
The recommendation 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.
Mutual recognition of test results is of utmost importance in order to facilitate cross border movement, cross border contact tracing and treatment. Member States are strongly encouraged to mutually recognise the test results for rapid antigen tests meeting the criteria in the recommendation carried out by authorised operating testing facilities in any EU Member States. Compliance with the recommendation may then contribute to the free movement of people and the smooth functioning of the internal market in times of limited testing capacities.