President Rodrigo Duterte wants to make sure that Covid-19 testing in the country is “accurate,” Malacañang said on Tuesday.
This, after Duterte ordered the Department of Health (DOH) to look into reports that the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is producing “false positive” results of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), which is under DOH, has been directed to investigate to ensure that the machines used for Covid-19 testing are yielding accurate results.
“That’s why we are ordering a probe so that we will make sure that the tests are in fact accurate. Now we know they’re not perfect but we are taking steps to make them more accurate,” Roque said in a virtual presser partly in Filipino.
In his taped Talk to the People aired Monday night, Duterte said he had received reports about botched RT-PCR test results processed in various molecular laboratories of PRC.
Duterte said 44 out of 49 total hospital personnel that tested positive for Covid-19 in the PRC’s molecular laboratory in Subic got negative results after getting retested in another facility.
He added that 187 of 213 personnel of the Presidential Security Group tested positive in the processing of the PRC Manila but yielded negative results in their confirmatory tests taken in another laboratory.
Thirteen officials from the Finance department, Duterte said, also experienced the same.
Quizzed if Duterte is questioning the integrity of Covid-19 testing in the country, Roque said: “I think that’s a wrong conclusion. I think The President wants our testing to be more accurate.”
Roque said Duterte is expecting the RITM to also check the accuracy of Covid-19 testing machines used by other molecular laboratories apart from PRC.
He said RITM may conduct an assessment “at a random basis” to ensure that there will be no error in the release of RT-PCR test results.
“I think that is the offshoot of the President’s order, that RITM since we are using those machines for a long time now) — must really go out of its way to test the accuracy,even at a random basis, the machines that we are using now,” Roque said partly in Filipino.
The RITM is already investigating the PRC chapter in Subic following complaints over its supposed release of false-positive Covid-19 test results.