One antigen test used in Baguio failed DOH standards, COVID-19 task force says

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 14) — Only one brand of antigen test kit used in the ongoing pilot study in Baguio City did not pass the standards set by the national government, a COVID-19 task force official clarified on Wednesday.

National Task Force Against COVID-19 spokesperson Restituto Padilla earlier said the antigen test used in Baguio failed to meet standards set by the Department of Health, even adding the government was looking at other options.

"Unfortunately, ay hindi po pumasa..." he said in a media briefing. "Sabay ho ginawa yung PCR test at tsaka 'yung antigen test. Ang lumabas pong resulta, kung hindi ako nagkakamali, ay mahigit kalahati lang po ang tugma ng antigen test sa lumabas na resulta ng PCR test."

[Translation: It unfortunately did not pass the standards. Both PCR and antigen testing were conducted. If I'm not mistaken, only half of the antigen tests showed accurate results when compared to the PCR result.]

He later clarified he was only referring to one brand, which he couldn't recall, out of several brands of antigen test kits being used to screen tourists entering the City of Pines.

He said it did not show accurate results when compared to those taken from the RT-PCR test, which remains to be the "gold standard" in detecting COVID-19 infections.

"The National Task Force continues to work with the Department of Health on the possible adoption of Antigen Test to supplement and facilitate people movement in the new normal," Padilla clarified.

"The recent pilot was specific to a few of these which remain for evaluation," he added. "The results of the pilot test in Baguio City is still for the evaluation of the DOH team tasked to examine its adoption."

He said the DOH set a standard that test result should be at least 85 percent accurate for the national government to allow its use for border screening.

Padilla said they are also exploring other affordable and fast testing options, such as breath-based and saliva-based tests, without sacrificing quality.

If the test pilot succeeds, the faster and cheaper antigen test may be used in other tourist destinations to ensure that it will be free of COVID-19 and keep visitors safe.

Although the RT-PCR test remains the "gold standard" in detecting the virus, it is more expensive and the result usually takes several days to become available.

Officials earlier expressed hopes the faster and cheaper antigen tests can be used to screen visitors in other areas to revive tourism and the local economy.

Antigen tests are used to determine if a patient is currently infected. A sample is collected via nasal or throat swab and results can be released in 4 to 6 hours.