MANILA, Philippines — The National Task Force on COVID-19 (NTF) clarified Wednesday that the pilot study on the use of antigen tests to detect coronavirus infections has not yet been completed and is still under assessment by the Department of Health (DOH).
The NTF issued the statement after its spokesperson, retired Gen. Restituto Padilla, announced that antigen tests failed to reach DOH’s accuracy and sensitivity standards.
“The Baguio antigen pilot is still not complete and no validation yet,” the NTF said. “This statement is issued to clarify the earlier statements of the NTF Spokesperson made during the Kapihan sa Manila Bay, which may have been understood as an end to the possible adoption of the said testing protocol.”
“There are many antigen test kits in the market and the recent pilot was specific to a few of these which remain for evaluation. The FDA stands ready too in reviewing new types of COVID19 tests as they come.
The DOH is conducting a study on antigen tests to detect the novel coronavirus in travelers entering Baguio City. The pilot study was launched despite a World Health Organization statement discouraging antigen tests for border screening.
Although the RT-PCR tests remain the “gold standard” in detecting the virus, it is not cost-efficient and usually takes days before the results are released.
A sample is collected via nasal or throat swab, similar to the RT-PCR in using antigen tests. However, unlike RT-PCR, antigen test results can be released in 4 to 6 hours. [ac]
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