DOH: COVID-19 rapid tests not ideal for mass screening of workers | Inquirer News

DOH: COVID-19 rapid tests not ideal for mass screening of workers

/ 10:51 AM July 20, 2020
covid-19 test

A medical worker collects blood sample for a coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) rapid test in Laguna (Photo by Earvin Perias)

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday reiterated that the use of rapid antibody test kits is not recommended for the screening of workers as the tests may yield inaccurate results that may further contribute to the spread of the disease.

The DOH made the declaration after seven medical organizations expressed concern over the rise in the use of rapid antibody test kits, noting that this is “possibly responsible” for the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in the country.


“The DOH has always had that position (on rapid testing),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters in an online forum.

Vergeire cited the DOH’s guidelines on rapid testing and the return-to-work policy issued when the government started to gradually reopen the economy and allow workers to resume onsite activities.


An Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases resolution also states that testing should not be a condition for a person to return to work, Vergeire added.

“Lagi nating ine-emphasize ‘yung rapid antibody test kasi ang dinedetect niyan ‘yung antibody na makikita mo lang to after so many days if you really have the illness. Kung wala ka namang illness wala ka talgang makukuha diyan,” Vergeire said.

(We always emphasize that rapid anti-body testing detects anti-bodies which are present only after so many days after getting infected.)

“Ang isa pang caveat nitong rapid antibody test is that it has been shown with evidence  na talagang maraming nagfa-false positive or false-negative with this kind of test. Kaya nga hindi natin siya dapat gamitin for screening,” she added.

Rapid anti-body tests, based on evidence, have prodiced numerous false-positive and false-negative results, hence such should not be used for screening.)

In a joint statement, the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Medical Association, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine Pediatric Society, Philippine College of Occupational Medicine and Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians warned that the continued use of rapid antibody tests for clearance to work may result in infected individuals being cleared and inadvertently spreading the novel coronavirus.

To date, there are 67,456 COVID-19 cases nationwide, including 22,465 recoveries and 1,831 deaths.

There has been a continued rise in COVID-19 cases nationwide — which health authorities attributed largely to the country’s improved testing capacity and the increased contact tracing as a result of the relaxation of quarantine measures.


For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, COVID-19, DoH, mass testing, medical societies, NcoV, Outbreak, Philippines, PSMID, rapid testing
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