RAPID antigen test results are still not included in the Department of Health (DOH) coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) case count because the data submitted by some local government units (LGUs) are inaccurate and need to be validated.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Friday, September 17, 2021, said some LGUs were using the antigen tests inappropriately.
"Some LGUs use this for screening employees, screening those who are going to pictorials, screening those who are going to weddings. That is not the appropriate use of antigen tests so we cannot accept them because this might lead to inaccurate reports of positive cases," said Vergeire.
Under the DOH Covid-19 management protocol, close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases in surge areas may be subjected to a rapid antigen test. If the result is positive, there is no longer any need for a confirmatory reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.
A rapid antigen test detects antibodies and indicates whether an individual had an infection or is still battling one, not necessarily Covid-19. The test that detects Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is the RT-PCR test.
Vergeire said the reports submitted by the LGUs on rapid antigen test results are still validated by the DOH.
"Marami na pong nag-submit sa amin ng data kaya lang, vina-validate po namin kasi hindi po malinis ang datos...Manual po ang paggamit natin, kinukuha natin from our epidemiology and surveillance units," Vergeire said.
"From a past run, there were about 10,000 reported positive antigen test results. But upon verification, only about 3,000 were valid. (Including them now) might lead to inaccurate reports of positive cases," she added.
Vergeire assured, however, that even if the rapid antigen test results are not included in the case count, the patients who test positive are being managed properly by the LGUs.
The official Covid-19 case count includes only the results of RT-PCR test on nasopharyngeal swabs and saliva specimens.
"The saliva test is considered as RT-PCR test. This is why it is included in the reporting. It is an RT-PCR but uses an alternative specimen, which is saliva," Vergeire said.
The DOH is reporting an average of more than 20,000 new Covid-19 cases a day, excluding the rapid antigen test results.
As of September 16, 2021, the Covid-19 case count in the Philippines has exceeded 2.3 million. (MVI / HDT / SunStar Philippines)