Cagayan De Oro City Representative Rufus Rodriguez urged the Department of Health to discourage the use of the rapid test for COVID-19 screening and promote the use of swab test of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) instead.
Rodriguez filed House Resolution 1146 on August 19, saying rapid antibody test (RAT) “can only detect antibodies, which the body produces in response to an infectious agent such as a virus.”
According to microbiologist-scientist Prof. Marilen Balolong of the University of the Philippines Manila, the RT-PCR is at least 97% accurate, while RAT’s reliability is 30% to 80%.
“There have been plenty of reports that these rapid tests produce false positive and false negative results,” he said.
Use of rapid test discouraged
Rodriguez said pulmonary and critical care specialist Dr. Anna York Bondoc and a former representative from Pampanga, also appealed to DOH to stop the use of rapid test “because they are highly inaccurate.”
“As a result, many people are put in quarantine because of false positive results, while some who are infected with the new coronavirus but are cleared are spreading the disease,” he added, quoting Bondoc.
The lawmaker also said that Bondoc “believes that wrong clinical decisions made with inaccurate results from rapid tests have been fueling the rise in COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.”
“Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives to urge the Department of Health to immediately discourage the use of rapid testing in screening people for COVID-19,” he said.
Bayanihan 2 proposal allocates P3 billion for RT-PCR testing and personal protective equipment for health workers. It also allotted P10 billion for COVID-19 medicines and vaccines.
The Department of Health earlier said it would not ban the rapid testing for COVID-19 because it could be useful for those who already recovered, said Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire.
“Hindi naman kailangan i-ban kasi may gamit pa rin siya sa ating response,” Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.
(There is no need to ban because it could be used for our response.)
As of August 30, 2020, the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines was at 217,396. Of this number, 157,403 recovered, while 3,520 died.