Health workers conduct rapid testing for COVID-19 on workers of some private companies in Marikina City on May 22, 2020.
The STAR/Boy Santos
Combining rapid test with PCR test will help revive economy safely — Project ARK
( - May 23, 2020 - 6:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — Private sector-led initiative Project Antibody Rapid Test Kits (ARK) on Saturday said the use of rapid antibody test combined with Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test will help restart the Philippine economy slowly amid the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Rapid antibody tests make use of blood samples to measure antibodies which are the body’s response to fighting an infection. The blood samples are sent to hospitals and results can be available as soon as 15 minutes after.  

The RT-PCR test, on the other hand, makes use of nasal and throat swabs to detect the presence of the virus. The swabs are sent to labs and results are usually available in 12 to 24 hours. 

In a statement released Saturday, the Project ARK medical team led by Dr. Minguita Padilla, together with former Health secretaries Dr. Manuel Dayrit and Dr. Esperanza Cabral, Dr. Rontgene Solante and Dr. Vicente Bellizario stood by its protocol of combining the two kinds of COVID-19 tests "as a strategy to help restart the economy while keeping the people as safe as possible and guarding against the dreaded second wave."  

“We wish to find a balance. This we are trying to do through the strategic and complimentary use of reputable Rapid Antibody tests, combined with RT-PCR testing. It is, for this reason, that we are also helping government hospitals ramp up their RT-PCR testing capacities so that this can be more widely accessible and affordable,” Padilla said.

“We’re going to use the modified enhanced community quarantine to test as much as possible. This is our contribution to slowly bring back to normal our livelihood,” she added.

The group said a consultation was done with many experts, including the Philippine-American Academy of Science & Engineering, which is a non-profit organization composed of scientists and engineers from various countries.  

Governments worldwide such as Singapore are using rapid tests to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

“A faster economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic for Singapore would depend on the availability of affordable, rapid test kits and the roll-out of a vaccine,” said Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing.    

Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said the government should maximize available resources to protect the lives and livelihood of Filipinos as the Philippines reopens the economy.

"I believe that extensive testing is key to protecting public health, and the means to help our economy bounce back successfully from this crisis,” said Concepcion. 

“It is, in fact, a way of protecting our businesses and the lives of our people. The private sector is spending more than P500 million to P600 million on this, but continuous lockdown is going to cost us much more. More testing will also enable us more accurately monitor the true incidence of the infection,” he added.

At present, a total of 1,062,943 rapid test kits from 218 companies were generated by Project ARK. 922,283 of which will be used by its partner companies while 140,660 kits are allotted for barangays.

2019 N-COV
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