A medical expert in Cyprus says wide-ranging rapid tests on the island have been a waste of money, adding he was in favor of targeted testing but only if it was focused on specific populations and criteria.
Cypriot pneumonologist Charis Armeftis on Tuesday criticized the government’s policy on state-sponsored rapid tests, saying people should be tested based on health factors and circumstances rather than general categories, such as “test to stay” programs at work.
“The purpose of each test being carried out, and this applies in general not only in medicine, is to achieve a goal which in this case is to reduce the spread,” Armeftis told a local radio news program.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, the positivity rate rose to 4.63% on Monday with the number of new COVID-19 cases surging to 5286 out of a total of 114,066 tests.
But the expert argued rapid tests in the general population simply reflected the situation on the ground and did not help reduce cases, adding the main goal should be the protection of people with coronavirus symptoms in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and unvaccinated.
Half a million each month for rapid tests
“If we estimate how much money the government spent on rapid tests, we could have set up 50 more hospital beds,” Armeftis said, suggesting the state paid half a million each month for those eligible for free tests.
Local media suggested the majority of test takers were people who were either unvaccinated, who have to pay for tests privately, or vaccinated individuals who are eligible for free testing but without a booster shot.
'I am in favor of targeted tests to protect people who are at risk of getting sick'
The expert said he was disappointed that people did not seem to follow health protocols and went on to argue that individuals should keep up with their vaccinations as “the best defense” against the spread of the coronavirus.
Recent decisions by the government as well as debate within the scientific community left some questions unanswered, such as whether vaccinated individuals ought to be tested similarly or to those who remain unvaccinated.
No reason to test people without symptoms
Armeftis called on people to get vaccinated or get a booster shot, including an optional fourth dose for people in vulnerable groups, but also suggested that rapid tests should be done based on risk factors as well as social circumstances, such as getting tested before visiting an elderly person.
“Vaccination is good for one thing, protecting us from getting seriously ill from pneumonia with pulmonary insufficiency and having to be intubated in intensive care and risking our lives,” the doctor said.
Armeftis said he disagreed with rapid testing people in the general population who have no symptoms.
“I am in favor of targeted tests to protect people who are at risk of getting sick,” the expert clarified.