Rapid tests can now be bought in Estonian pharmacies

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A negative COVID-19 rapid test. Source: Urmet Kook/ERR

Rapid tests for professional use will be sold in pharmacies in Estonia from this week.

The two types of rapid tests currently on sale are saliva-based or nasopharyngeal - administered up the nose - and they cost €25 and €14, respectively. They can only be brought and used by professionals, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Monday.

While many companies already use nasopharyngeal rapid tests, the saliva test is new.

Merle Niglas, manager of Apotheka Pharmacy told AK: "Be sure to read the instructions before. This test must be within a 10-15 minute window. The result must be interpreted immediately."

Pharmacist Silja Moik told AK that it does not matter which test is performed as they both have the same outcome and are accurate. "The main difference is where the sample is taken, either from the nasopharynx or saliva," she said.

However, the Health Board does not agree with this assessment and said nasopharyngeal (PCR) tests are more reliable.

"None of these saliva tests are currently approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or the European Union to be sensitive or specific enough," says Mari-Anne Härma, deputy director of the Health Board.

Moik said if a person takes a rapid test that gives a positive result, they should also get a PCR test. "Be sure to contact your family doctor and he or she will refer you," she said.

All rapid tests currently available in pharmacies are for professional use only. The Health Board emphasizes that "for professional use" means the test is performed by a certified healthcare professional and they interpret the result.

Rapid tests for home use may soon be available over the counter as the Health Board is reviewing two applications for nasopharyngeal tests. It is not yet known how much they will cost.

Härma said the difference will be that tests for home use will have thoroughly explained instructions and it will not be possible to misinterpret the result.  

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Editor: Helen Wright

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