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DOH to review guidelines on antigen tests after WHO warning
Bus commuters in Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City wear face shields on August 19, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

DOH to review guidelines on antigen tests after WHO warning

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - September 14, 2020 - 3:05pm

MANILA, Philippines — Guidelines on the use of antigen tests, a faster alternative to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, will be revised following a recommendation from the World Health Organization, the Department of Health said.

In a media briefing Monday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the WHO has advised against the use of antigen tests for border screenings.

“This will have an effect on the guidelines that we are drafting because as we have said, we have recommended that this be used in borders for incoming tourists,” Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Last week, the government’s coronavirus task force adopted a recommendation by the Department of Transportation to use antigen tests to screen travels on domestic flights.

Resolution 70 of the IATF said this new procedure would be “provisionally adopted” subject to the approval of the use of antigen testing for travel purposes and subject to the alignment with the final DOH protocols.

The DOH earlier said it would release its guidelines on the use of antigen tests this week but the new WHO recommendation was a “bottleneck” it had met over the weekend.

Vergeire said health experts would review the department’s current recommendations to the IATF

“We will revise it. It will again undergo this series of consultations,” she said.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, antigen tests quickly detects fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs.

While antigen tests can provide results in minutes, this type of diagnostic testing may not detect all active infections because it is not as sensitive as the RT-PCR testing—the “gold standard” in coronavirus testing.

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