An Irish medical expert has told an Oireachtas Committee that the suggestion that antigen testing will encourage poor behaviour is "back to the argument" around "seatbelts and condoms".

Dr Niamh Power, who is also a pilot, established V1 Medical last November to provide rapid antigen testing at Dublin and Cork Airports.

She told the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications that in Europe, Ireland is now the most disconnected country and Dublin is the most disconnected city, according to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (Eurocontrol).

Michael Lowry, Independent TD, said the Chief Medical Officer and his officials should come before the committee to explain NPHET's "baffling" and "stubborn obstruction" to the use of antigen testing.

Committee Chair Deputy Kieran O'Donnell agreed that the CMO should face the committee, and publicly called on Dr Tony Holohan to avail of an open invitation to do so "very, very shortly".

Chris O'Grady, Chief Pharmacist at Kilkenny-based Duelchem Ltd, said antigen testing would allow All-Ireland finals in August to have "full stadia".

"If the system is implemented it works for 500, 5,000, 100,000. It's the same process," he said.

Mr O'Grady noted that up to 70% of Covid-19 transmissions occur when no symptoms are present.

By the time you get a PCR test result, you might no longer be transmitting the virus, he said.

He rejected as "spin" suggestions that antigen testing was only 50% or 60% as effective as PCR testing, as both tests work very differently.

Unlike PCR testing, he said that antigen testing asks simply, "are you contagious?"

Dr Michael Mina, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Harvard, and an international authority on antigen testing, agreed.

"These tests are very accurate if you are concerned about limiting transmission," he said.

If that is the goal, any suggestion that antigen tests are 50% accurate is "inaccurate", he added.

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Dr Mina said continued testing would be needed, even after vaccination programmes are completed.

"We've seen plenty of people who have been vaccinated who are carrying the virus," he said.

He told the committee that this is of particular concern around the Delta (India) variant, and "the inevitable next variants".

Asked about cost effectiveness, Dr Power noted that - overheads aside - an antigen test can be bought for €5.

She told the committee that antigen testing allows people to adapt to regularly changing travel rules, as it can be administered quickly, unlike PCR.

However, she said that she has received no information or guidance from the Government as to how her company can participate in the Digital Covid Cert, which goes active in under six weeks.

Dr Power also expressed concern that there could be delays uploading antigen test results to the Digital Covid Cert, if a further validation test is required.

She warned that this would compromise antigen testing's greatest strengths, which are its "flexibility and speed".