Lateral flow tests: Demand outstrips supply in Northern Ireland, says Community Pharmacy NI chief

Lateral flow test box

Amid UK-wide reports of ‘spotty’ supplies, Community Pharmacy NI chief executive Gerard Greene said an increase in demand for the tests appears to be causing similar difficulties here. .

He stressed, however, that a clearer picture of the supply issue would not be available until the end of this week.

Demand for the tests, which are made available free of charge via hundreds of pharmacies across Northern Ireland and are widely used in care settings, schools and other settings, has increased across the UK amid record levels of coronavirus infection fueled by the omicron variant.

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Although daily coronavirus data has not been released by the Northern Ireland Department of Health since before Christmas, the number of new cases reported in Britain and the Republic of Ireland has reached new highs the last days.

Mr Greene, speaking to the News Letter, said: ‘Before Christmas there was definitely a supply problem. I don’t think Northern Ireland didn’t have the test kits, they just couldn’t get them to pharmacies.

“It may have been a logistical or distribution issue, but they have certainly increased or accelerated deliveries over the past week.

“But with all the public health messaging happening by the minute, everyone is very keen on getting lateral feeds, so the demand is probably outstripping the supply by the minute.”

He continued: “Now we won’t know what the full situation is for another day or two this week.

“We have certainly gone to the Department of Health to try to increase supplies to pharmacies because there is no point in putting out a public health message to try to encourage people to use lateral flows if nobody can. to obtain.

“The pharmacies will distribute them to people, of course, but we must have them to give them.

“It would appear that at the minute it can be quite spotty to get the supplies.”

He urged those unable to find a lateral flow test to ‘shop around’, saying: ‘Now if you are in a high street pharmacy they will be in high demand, but maybe only in a pharmacy device, they might still have some – so it might be people having to shop around.

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