DOH: Guidelines on virus antigen test needed before use on domestic travelers
MANILA, Philippines — Guidelines on the use of antigen tests to detect the presence of coronavirus will still have to be issued before the tests can be administered on asymptomatic domestic travelers as a pre-aircraft boarding requirement, the Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday.
The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has already allowed the use of antigen tests as a substitute for the gold-standard real-time polymerase chain reaction tests or swab tests when traveling to local destinations.
“We have to issue the guidelines first so that this can be officially used and implemented in the different sectors of society based on this targeted testing for COVID-19 where antigen test has already been included as a recommendation,” DOH spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.
But Vergeire noted that the antigen test kit must be registered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and must have at least high sensitivity and specificity to detect SARS-CoV- 2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
“So I have to remind the public that for this rapid antigen test, it has to be registered by the FDA and second, it has to be locally validated by the RITM (Research Institute for Topical Medicine) or other institutions that were authorized and one of the things that are most important would be that this antigen test that they use has 80 percent sensitivity and 95 percent or more specificity,” she said.
Previously, Vergeire said the antigen test detects “viral protein or antigens, which is expressed only when the virus is replicating.”
While she noted that an antigen test is more reliable than the rapid test kit, it would still need RT-PCR for confirmation of the presence of the coronavirus.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.