Netanyahu receives rapid Sofia test
Netanyahu receives rapid Sofia testKobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this afternoon was tested for the first time with the rapid coronavirus test (result within 15 minutes), called a "Sofia" test, which revealed that the Prime Minister is COVID-19 negative.

Earlier today, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kish toured the Neve Horim nursing home in Jerusalem, which for the first time today implemented the rapid testing system, Sofia, which was widely used in Israel following discussions on the issue led by Prime Minister Netanyahu and after a series of inspections by the Health Ministry.

Netanyahu noted, "We have the first signs of cautious optimism that we are stopping the epidemic, but it's too early to say. All the experts without exception said, wait at least another week, so we do. But as we exit closure in a gradual and responsible manner, this time in the second wave, I also want speed tests to be done."

The Quidel Sofia Sars antigen test insert says the test was authorized for "individuals who are suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider within the first five days of the onset of symptoms," not for an asymptomatic person.

Also, an Israeli Health Ministry letter to hospital directors dated September 27, 2020, recommends the Sofia test be used "on people with symptoms only".

Nevertheless, Netanyahu said: "Today we're installing this rapid test in nursing homes across Israel, the 'Sofia' test, which is a 15-minute test. It can help us in domestic aviation, in hotels, and in many other areas - in hospitals and clinics. We'll come out in a graded and responsible manner and we won't succumb to any populist pressure in this matter," the Prime Minister again stressed.

Netanyahu added: "We're now acting in a very responsible way in the second wave, as we acted in the first wave. In the first wave we were a united, cohesive government, and a public that responded. All of Europe is now galloping towards a second lockdown; if we act correctly we'll emerge from the second lockdown in a better position as all of Europe enters it. So please keep the rules, and I also call on my colleagues, the members of the government and the coalition in the Knesset to be united."

Deputy Health Minister Yoav Kish said, "The State of Israel is on its way to quick, personal and cheap tests. Sofia is the first step. I'm happy to lead, in accordance with the plan of the Health Minister Yuli Edelstein, and under the guidance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the deployment of hundreds of checkpoints that will allow the economy to be released after the closure and open another path for testing without the need for laboratories."

In recent discussions on the subject, Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed to speed up the process of absorbing the rapid test kits and assimilating them in high-risk places such as nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics, as well as to increase the volume of purchases.

In recent weeks, the Health Ministry has begun deploying 300 rapid Sofia testing devices. All devices together can perform up to 60,000 tests a day. The test is performed by a reagent test strip and after waiting 15 minutes, the result is obtained.

During the visit, the Prime Minister and Deputy Minister toured the Neve Horim nursing home and heard from Prof. Maimon, who is in charge of the "Magen Avot VeAmotot" program, about the deployment of the devices under the program.