RT-PCR test still ‘gold standard’ of Covid-19 testing

A lawmaker on Wednesday cautioned the government from using rapid antigen testing to ramp up coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing in the so-called NCR Plus.

Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said rapid antigen testing is mainly used for symptomatic patients.

Garin noted that asymptomatic patients who tested negative should still undergo confirmatory reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test (RT-PCR) because rapid antigen has a false negative rate of about 40 percent.

“Nauuso ngayon ang antigen testing dahil mabilis. Pero huwag tayo makampante. RT-PCR test pa rin ang gold standard sa Covid-19 testing (Antigen testing has become more popular because it’s faster. But we shouldn’t be complacent. RT-PCR test is still the gold standard of Covid-19 testing),” she said.

She also stressed the importance of prepositioning essential medicines during the pandemic such as Covid-19 investigational drugs Remdesivir and Tocilizumab.

“I have been receiving messages and calls asking for Remdesivir and Tocilizumab. In a pandemic, dapat prepositioned na ang mga gamot (every medicine should be prepositioned),” she said.

Garin also cautioned the public against using Ivermectin against Covid-19 as the anti-parasitic drug did not go through intensive study and clinical trial for use on humans.

“Hindi porke may narinig tayo o nabasa ay paniniwalaan na natin. Huwag naman natin sayangin ang efforts ng ating mga scientists (Just because we heard or read about something doesn’t mean we should believe it. Let’s not waste the efforts of our scientists),” she said.

Testing czar Vivencio Dizon said on Tuesday the government will ramp up the detection of individuals with Covid-19 in NCR Plus — National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal — through deploying antigen testing,

Dizon, also the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) deputy chief implementer, said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has decided to add 30,000 antigen testing per day in NCR Plus. Dizon said the antigen testing will be on top of the average 50,000 RT-PCR daily testings nationwide, bringing the country-wide testing capacity of around 80,000 per day.

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