IATF approves pilot studies on use of antigen tests for border screening

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 19) - The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) approved on Friday the conduct of pilot studies on the use of antigen tests for border screening.

Under the IATF-MEID Resolution No. 72, the pilot studies will cover interzonal travel in the country considering "cross-border differences in quarantine status and the prevalence level of transmission."

Specialized programs of the Department of Tourism will also be included in the pilot studies on the use of Rapid Antigen Tests (Ag-RDTs).

The recommendations to conduct pilot studies on antigen tests came from the Department of Health (DOH) Technical Advisory Group, in coordination with the DOT, Department of Interior and Local Government, and the World Health Organization.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the antigen tests will be a "game-changer" if the DOH approves its use for the public.

"In essence, it is like rapid testing kits but its accuracy is not far as the RT-PCR (reverse polymerase-chain reaction) testing," added Roque during his briefing in Baguio City.

The DOH announced on Monday the IATF will review Resolution No. 69, which allows the use of rapid antigen testing for domestic air travel, following the recent pronouncement of WHO that such tests are not advisable to be used in borders.

Antigen tests, which use swab samples to measure the sensitivity and specificity of the virus in one's body, have been considered as an alternative to the "gold standard" RT-PCR tests in detecting COVID-19 among probable patients.