The government in the Republic of Cyprus has approved access to home test kits for COVID-19, but the use of an antigen non-invasive test using saliva is not on the approved list per health ministry policy.
Cyprus Pharmaceutical Association president Piera Eleni Isseyiek on Tuesday said pharmacies were finally getting recognition as "accessible alternatives" that could help reduce the burden of collecting a large volume of specimen samples on the frontlines, where people stand in line to get tested in approved locations.
But a saliva test that can be done at home, along with other self-diagnostic methods, was not included on a list of approved kits that has been sent to pharmacies across the Republic.
Isseyiek, who admitted that home kits were allowed in other European countries, argued on state radio that self-diagnostic tests were not allowed in the Republic of Cyprus under the current situation.
'There are COVID antigen tests, which are available for sale in pharmacies but not for self-diagnosis, that are conducted by the pharmacist and the results are sent directly to the health ministry'
“There are COVID antigen tests, which are available for sale in pharmacies but not for self-diagnosis, that are conducted by the pharmacist and the results are sent directly to the health ministry’s epidemiological surveillance unit,” she said.
Isseyiek says the epidemiological surveillance unit does not recognize tests conducted anywhere other than approved locations, such as rapid test points.
The CPA president said that pharmacies would now be among those approved locations, adding that people should better call ahead to confirm days and times.
But she did not clarify whether saliva tests could be legally sold at pharmacies for non self-diagnosis purposes.
Saliva home test ideal for kids
A local health expert says saliva tests could be ideal for people, especially young children.
Petros Karayiannis, who sits on the government’s pandemic task force, said last week that it was up to health ministry officials to make the final decision on saliva kits.
“Both are antigen tests, the one through the nose and the other with saliva, but both detect the bug’s protein,” Karayiannis said, clarifying that saliva could also be used in PCR tests.
Non-invasive tests can be purchased online while a number of EU member states have already approved home test kits, including those using the saliva method.