DOH to conduct Covid-19 antigen pilot test

THE Department of Health (DOH) said Saturday, September 19, that the government will first run a pilot test in the country's "subsectors or special population of the society" to ensure the effectiveness of Covid-19 antigen tests.

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) earlier allowed the use of antigen tests as a pre-boarding requirement of asymptomatic domestic travelers.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, antigen tests may be used as substitute for the gold standard real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.

But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the use of antigen tests is not advisable for border screenings.

In a Laging Handa briefing Saturday, September 19, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that the WHO released recommendations on improving the accuracy of rapid antigen testing.

"Nagkaroon na po ng initial discussions with IATF and it was provisionally approved already itong paggamit ng rapid antigen test. Kaya nga lang po noong September 11, nagpalabas po ang WHO ng kanilang rekomendasyon," she said.

"Dito po sa mga rekomendasyon na ito, mayroon ho silang mga ilan na sinabi na kailangan po nating balikan ang ating mga eksperto lalung-lalo na ang Health Technology Assessment Council natin para pag-aralan pa hong mas mabuti kung paano po natin ire-revise ang pathways na naibigay natin para po mas maging accurate po ang mga resulta natin kung gagamit po tayo nitong rapid antigen test," she added.

Vergeire said the IATF will first run pilot tests in a specific area to further understand the effects of antigen testing.

The official did not specify the chosen location for the pilot test.

"Napagkasunduan po with the IATF para po mas maging sigurado tayo doon sa gagawin natin, magkakaroon po tayo ng pilot study dito po sa isang city sa ating bansa," Vergeire said.

"Makikita po natin kung talagang puwede ho nating gamitin itong antigen test dito po sa mga sinasabing subsectors or special population of the society," she added.

According to Vergeire, the rapid antibody test can determine whether a person is positive for Covid-19 through the antigens released by the body.

Antigens are the body's natural defense against sickness, including Covid-19.

"When you talk about rapid antibody test, ang tinitingnan ho nitong test na ito ay iyong mga antibodies. Ibig sabihin, kapag ikaw ay nagkakasakit, nagdi-develop ho ng mga panlaban sa sakit ang ating katawan and these are the antibodies. Ito po iyong tinatawag na markers of infection. Ibig sabihin, kapag kayo po ay may sakit, lumalabas agad iyang antigen na iyan sa ating katawan," Vergeire said.

"Kaya nga po itong rapid antigen test na ito, ito po iyong talagang inirerekomenda na kapag may sakit talaga ang tao, mataas ang viral load, kapag nagpositibo siya sa rapid antigen test, sigurado po kayo na positibo talaga ang pasyenteng iyan," she added. (SunStar Philippines)


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