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Baguio antigen pilot test not yet over

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October 15, 2020 – The pilot test of the antigen as an alternative screening and detection tool in the city is not yet over as health authorities are still in the process of collating the needed data to be submitted to health experts for the crafting of the omnibus guidelines governing the use of the same.

City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said that local health authorities have yet to submit to the pool of experts the data gathered in the initial pilot test of the antigen for those who were subjected to the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test to ascertain their compatibility.

She added that the antigen pilot test for frequent travelers and tourists is still underway as the data gathering in the triage center  is ongoing, thus, the city government is not aware where the report came from on the alleged failure of the antigen pilot test in the city.

The city health officer pointed out that collated data from the initial pilot test and the ongoing second pilot test of the antigen will all be submitted to the pool of experts commissioned by the health department for the formulation of the recommendation on whether or not to include antigen test as part of the screening and detection tool for the deadly virus.

Earlier, the pool of experts commissioned by the health department selected Baguio City as the site for the antigen pilot test to ascertain the possibility of including the same as one of the recommended screening and detection tools for the deadly virus.

The tourism department committed to the city government that it will bankroll the conduct of the antigen pilot test in the city through a P1.8 million financial assistance from the State-owned Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA).

Galpo explained it will be the pool of health experts that will formulate the appropriate recommendations on whether or not the antigen will be included as one alternative screening and detection tool to provide people with choices on what test to take when moving inside and outside the city.

The results of the antigen test can be made available in 15 to 30 minutes compared to the results of the RT-PCR test that is readily available in 9 to 12 hours.

Gapo emphasized that the city government never released any results of the first antigen pilot test and the ongoing second pilot test because the procedure is for the pilot test results to be immediately transmitted to the assigned pool of experts who will be the ones to release the desired results.

According to her, the antigen pilot test for frequent travelers and tourists will be for free as part of the data gathering to be able to compare the antigen test results to the RT-PCR test which is the declared gold standard for COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) previously issued the procurement guidelines for the antigen and also included the same in the emergency use list of the organization that will serve as a guide for countries that are interested to use the antigen as an alternative screening and detection tool for the deadly virus. - Dexter A. See