Doctors push for RT-PCR stoppage
At a forum organized by the Philippine College of Physicians, doctors said it is best to screen workers based on symptoms and exposure rather than testing them for the coronavirus disease using these testing kits.
Image by Frank Hull on Pixabay
Doctors push for RT-PCR stoppage
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - August 5, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Rapid antibody and realtime-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests should not be used as screening tools for workers before they are allowed to return to work, doctors said yesterday.

At a forum organized by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), doctors said it is best to screen workers based on symptoms and exposure rather than testing them for the coronavirus disease using these testing kits.

According to Dr. Antonio Dans of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine, rapid antibody kits should no longer be used in COVID-19 testing.

“Around the world, only the Philippines is still using rapid tests. It’s an antibody test so it does not detect the virus. If it can detect only half of COVID-19 cases, the infection will spread because of those who tested negative but are actually positive for the virus,” he said.

Dans said PCR test, which is considered the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, should also not be used as a clearance for work.

“What if a person tested negative using PCR, he will report for work because he is safe. But what if tomorrow he encounters an infected individual. Will you be testing them everyday?” he said.

He said testing workers every two weeks is costly and will also not give assurance that they will not get infected within 14 days after the first test.

“So we suggest symptoms and exposure check. If they have the symptoms or exposure, only then should they be tested. You should do contact tracing, in case they are infected,” Dans explained.

COVID vaccines

Despite President Duterte’s optimism that vaccines will be available for Filipinos by yearend, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said vaccines against COVID-19 may be accessible by middle of next year based on World Health Organization’s solidarity trials.

Dela Peña, however, assured the public that the Philippine government is maximizing its alliances with other countries to have timely access to the vaccines.

“We don’t have our own vaccine development project because we do not have the facilities,” he said.

Dela Peña said the government is relying on the solidarity trials being conducted by the WHO and bilateral agreements with five countries.

He explained that the Philippines needs to shell out about P1.3 billion for its participation in the COVID-19 facility, which can be used as a deposit to allow the government to procure vaccines for at least three percent of the country’s 109.5 million population.  – Christina Mendez

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