DOH: No need to ban rapid test kits
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - August 11, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is not about to ban the use of rapid antibody tests (RATs) for COVID-19, saying it can still be used in some ways for coronavirus response.

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, there is no need to ban RATs because those who are already recovering or who have recovered from the virus could still use it.

“There is still use for it. Because on the 21st day of the illness of a patient, RATs becomes accurate or sensitive to detect if the patient had already recovered,” she noted.

But Vergeire maintained that the DOH does not recommend the use of RATs for screening.

She added that the DOH is coming out with omnibus guidelines on the use of COVID-19 testing methods that are currently available in the country, including RATs.

The others are realtime-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and rapid antigen test.

Vergeire said RATs could detect antibodies, which were generated five to seven days after a person has been ill.

On the other hand, RT-PCR can detect the presence of the virus even after a patient had completed the 14-day quarantine or even up to one month. It is considered as the gold standard for COVID-19 testing.

The latest test kits to come out in the market is the rapid antigen test, which is appropriate to be used during the first five days of the illness. It is believed to be more accurate than RATs.

She added the rapid antigen cannot be used if the person is pre-symptomatic or is already beyond the six to seven days of illness as it will turn negative.

The DOH also yesterday urged testing laboratories for COVID-19 to submit daily and on time lists of the tests that they have conducted.

At a press briefing, Vergeire said that DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III has ordered the strict implementation of the timely submission of the line list to make the data of COVID-19 cases updated.

“We are still challenged with the daily reports that we are getting. Until now, only 70-plus laboratories are complying with submission. Their reports are important because it is where we get the (data on) positive individuals,” she noted.

Data show that there are now 77 licensed laboratories for RT-PCR tests and 24 laboratories for GeneXpert tests.

The DOH is about to issue a memorandum to concerned laboratories to inform them daily and timely submission of such information is part of their licensing requirements.

Vergeire added aside from this, the testing facilities are also bound to report to DOH based on a law on notifiable diseases.

She cautioned that their licenses would be at stake should they fail to comply with the requirements.

“It is the obligation of reporting units especially since this is an emergency. COVID-19 is a notifiable disease. If they fail to submit there will be sanctions as indicated in different laws,” she said.

DOH RAPID TEST
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