Rapid antibody tests defended
MANILA, Philippines — The medical team behind Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion’s Project ARK again defended the use of antibody rapid test kits in response to warnings from the medical community that such tests might produce false results.
In a statement on Saturday, Project ARK’s medical team led by opthalmologist Minguita Padilla said it stood by its protocol of using both rapid test kits and the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR tests.
“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,” the medical team said.
“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,” added the project’s medical team composed of former Health secretaries
Dr. Manuel Dayrit and Dr. Esperanza Cabral, former president of the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases Dr. Rontgene Solante, and Dr. Vicente Belizario, former executive director of the National Institutes of Health.
Inspired by the Biblical story about Noah’s ark saving humanity from a catastrophic flood, Project ARK is a private sector initiative meant to make mass testing available nationwide amid a resurgent COVID-19 pandemic and the government’s admission that instead of mass testing, it would conduct a more limited “enhanced targeted testing.”
The idea behind Project ARK is to order and distribute rapid test kits to companies that want to test their employees. So far, over a million kits for 218 companies had been ordered, of which 140,660 kits will be donated to barangays, Concepcion said earlier.
While RT-PCR tests have been widely regarded as the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, rapid test kits give quicker results at significantly lower costs.
False positive or negative
Critics, including those from the medical community, however warned that rapid test kits may produce either false negative or false positive results.
Considering the global health emergency, Concepcion pushed for the use of “all the tools available to us at the moment to protect the lives and livelihood of our people and to effectively fight COVID-19.”
“It is, in fact, a way of protecting our businesses and the lives of our people,” he said, referring to Project ARK.
“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 to more accurately monitor the true incidence of the infection,” Concepcion added.
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