Demand for rapid tests remain high. During a press conference today, the Kuomintang's legislative caucus said the original manufacturer manual for Gmate's saliva rapid test does not indicate that it can detect the Omicron variant, and questioned why the Ministry of Health and Welfare rushed to grant authorization.
The number of new daily COVID-19 cases remains high. The government recently began recognizing a positive rapid test result confirmed by a doctor as a confirmed case, causing demand for rapid tests to surge. Saliva rapid tests made by Korean manufacturer Gmate recently became available. However, Kuomintang's legislative caucus pointed out during a press conference that Gmate's English manual indicates that it works for the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta variants. There was no mention of Omicron.
Lin Yi-hua, Legislator (KMT): “When was this period of frantic authorization of rapid tests? It was when the Omicron variant was assailing Taiwan. This means that the rapid tests you authorize to come in need to be able to test for the Omicron variant. ”
Legislators said they received calls from the public. One person was positive with a Ct value of 12, but the Gmate saliva rapid test result was negative. There were other incidents where children had obvious symptoms but tested negative in saliva rapid tests. Doctors said it's difficult to get children to cough out saliva from deep within the throat, and only proper usage will produce an accurate result.
Chiang Kuan-yu, Doctor, Taipei City Hospital Zhongxing Branch: “If it was a rapid test product produced earlier, then perhaps it was only updated until the Delta variant. There were reports in the UK that if you want to test for Omicron as well, you need 10 times (the virus concentration) compared to Delta. ”
International research reports indicated that for early rapid test products to detect Omicron, a virus concentration 10 times higher than that of Delta is needed. Doctors say that during asymptomatic infections, the virus concentration is higher in the throat than nasopharynx, and saliva rapid tests can help to identify asymptomatic cases.