Despite warnings from experts, Palace insists use of rapid antibody tests
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday insisted on the utilization of rapid antibody tests, even if doctors called for a stop to its use for COVID-19 screening saying it may worsen the outbreak in the country due to its inaccuracy.
In a Palace press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque acknowledged that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is the “gold standard” for COVID-19 testing. However, he also said that rapid antibody tests are still useful for “initial screening.”
He also mentioned that the country’s supply of PCR tests is not enough for all 110 million Filipinos.
“May gamit po ‘yang rapid test na ‘yan. Ang mga lokal na pamahalaan kapag sila po ay nagpa-rapid test, kino-confirm nila ang mga positives through PCR. ‘Yung mga IgG positive hinihiwalay na nila ‘yan kasi hindi na sila infectious pero ‘yung mga nagne-negative pa rin pwede pa rin silang magpa-test. So it’s for initial screening,” Roque explained.
The medical community has been warning the government against allowing businesses to use rapid antibody tests to screen their employees who are returning to work.
The Department of Health has also repeatedly cautioned against the false-positive and false-negative results of rapid testing.
But Roque claimed that countries that have successfully contained the spread of infectious respiratory illness also utilized rapid tests “in conjunction” with PCR testing.
Roque, a lawyer by profession, also claimed that PCR tests are likewise not 100 percent accurate.
“Iba’t-ibang bansa po ang gumamit ng rapid test kits in conjunction with PCR at lahat po ng successful sa pag-contain ng COVID-19 gaya ng Vietnam, gaya South Korea gaya ng pati bansang Japan—dahil sila naman po ang nagma-manufacture ng rapid test kits— at ng Tsina ay gumamit din po niyan,” the Palace official said.
“Having said that, sinabi naman po ng Presidente, walang debate, na ang pinakamagaling na test po talaga ay ang PCR test pero gaya ng lahat ng test hindi rin po 100% guaranteed ang PCR tests.”
“Marami pong nagfafalse-positive at false-negative din po diyan sa PCR test kagaya ng rapid tests so lahat po ng magagamit natin, gagamitin natin,” he added.
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