MANILA – Local government units (LGUs) have been authorized to procure and utilize antibody test kits approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that this comes after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the purchase of antibody test kits to increase the country’s testing capacity for coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“Alinsunod po ito sa sinabi ng Presidente siya po ang mananagot sa paggamit ng rapid test kits (This will be according to the President’s statement that he will take responsibility for use of rapid test kits),” Roque said in a virtual presser.
Roque earlier said the government aims to have at least 900,000 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test kits and about 2.2 million rapid test kits to have an “accurate statistical sample” of the extent of the pandemic in the country.
Last April 13, Duterte ordered the purchase of rapid antibody test kits despite the lack of Department of Health (DOH) guidelines on its use.
The FDA has approved 16 rapid antibody test kits for commercial use as of April 16, 2020.
According to the FDA, the rapid test kits detect the presence of antibodies in an individual’s blood or serum.
Results of rapid anti-body tests can be released in three hours which is faster but less accurate than the usual five to seven days it takes for the PCR tests.
The PCR-based test kits are still considered as the “gold standard” for diagnosing Covid-19 infections.
For the PCR tests, trained professionals use nose and throat swab samples to find out whether a person has coronavirus.
On the other hand, rapid antibody test kits use blood samples which are unable to detect the virus but instead measures a patient’s antibodies through the sample.
Rapid anti-body tests will still be subjected to PCR confirmatory tests as recommended by the Department of Health (DOH).
All sea-based and land-based overseas Filipino workers are required to undergo rapid antibody testing upon arrival at a quarantine facility.
On Wednesday, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion said the Project Anti-body Rapid Test Kits (Project ARK) has raised at least 1 million rapid antibody test kits to boost the number of people that can be screened for Covid-19 in the country.
Project ARK is a private sector-led initiative that aims to make massive testing possible through the use of antibody rapid test kits.
The first batch of 400,000 test kits will arrive by Sunday, while the remaining 600,000 will arrive in batches the following weeks, he said. (ia/PNA)