During the inauguration rites held last November 1 for the new molecular diagnostic lab set up at the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital, DOH-7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche clarifies DOH’s stance towards COVID-19 antigen testing and its distinction from the PCR diagnostics.
Antigen Testing’s Fundamental Purpose
In her speech, she highlighted that antigen testing was never meant to be a replacement or a substitute to PCR testing. It was meant to serve a complimentary purpose. She stated that “Our stand in DOH, there are set of guidelines for antigen testing, like we are ready for confirmation to do the swab for the RT-PCR if they will test positive,”
RT-PCR testing remains as the gold standard of diagnostic technology against COVID-19. Its limitations in reach and speed, however, restricts its capability to respond to the massive demand from the Filipino people. Antigen testing, through its ease-of-use and rapid results, could help lighten the load and determine which individuals require confirmatory testing.
To assure the complimentary nature of antigen and PCR tests, the DOH has already set an established protocol between testing providers and their department. Their omnibus guidelines for testing provides testing facilities with the processes to facilitate testing and to properly handle and forward positive results. For communities with limited access to RT-PCR diagnostics, Dr. Socrates Villamor, the provincial officer of DOH, advised that FDA-approved antigen tests could be used for COVID-19 suspects and their close contacts.
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