Red Cross addresses alleged 'false positive' COVID-19 test results

Red Cross addresses alleged 'false positive' COVID-19 test results
This July 8, 2020 file photo shows the Philippine Red Cross molecular laboratory in Batangas City.
Philippine Red Cross, release

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross on Tuesday explained the alleged "false positives" among COVID-19 tests by the humanitarian organization, which President Rodrigo Duterte flagged in his most recent rant against Sen. Richard Gordon.

In his speech aired Monday, Duterte ordered the Department of Health to look into reports of false positive COVID-19 results coming out of PRC laboratories.

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, under the DOH, is already investigating the molecular laboratory of PRC in Subic for allegedly yielding false positive test results.

The STAR reported that the health personnel who allegedly got false positive results had a "re-swab" three days later. In those tests, only five of the 49 medical workers were positive for COVID-19.

In a statement, PRC said the samples in question were taken at the Unihealth-Baypointe Hospital and Medical Center in Subic Bay Freeport Zone by their personnel, and tested at the organization’s molecular laboratory in Subic.

Of the 48 samples, 45 turned out positive, triggering a complete re-run and a manual process to eliminate the possibility of erroneous results, PRC said.

"On the second run, the results came out same," it added.


PRC also said the timing of tests may have produced a different result.

"The negative result of the tests in question came from specimens collected after three days, which may be one such factor for the negative result. Clients may have truly been negative already by the time their second was taken," it said.

While PRC stood by the integrity of the results of its molecular laboratories, it acknowledged the possibility of false positive results "since no test is 100% accurate."

"In such cases, the Department of Health encourages us to err on the side of caution and treat all positive results as true positive. This is designed to protect everyone, including the clients and their families and co-workers," PRC said.

The organization added that its 13 molecular laboratories obtained 100% for the proficiency tests they went through.

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