More big business groups support Project ARK

Project ARK, the private sector-led initiative that aims to make massive testing possible through the use of Antibody Rapid test Kits, continues to draw support from big business groups around the country.

Presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO) Presidential adviser on entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion

Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion bared this on Thursday, the same day he led a video conference for the public introduction of Project ARK (Antibody Rapid test Kits).

Concepcion underscored that mass testing is a way of protecting businesses and its employees, opposing Dr. Ed Salvana’s stance against the use of rapid test kits. Salvana had said that mass testing would be a waste of money.

“We disagree that massive rapid testing of our employees is a waste of resources. It is, in fact, a way of protecting our businesses and the lives of our people. If the business owner does not know who among his employees are infected, that is a far greater risk. This might even result in more damages and might place our factories and plants under future lockdown,” Concepcion said.

“The private sector would rather spend more money to ensure the safety and security of our people, rather than risk the health and future of the company. Mass testing is a form of prevention. Most of the mitigation models that were presented to the business sector showed that mass testing is the key to restarting the economy. These models were used by other countries such as South Korea to successfully curb the spread of the disease. We just can’t allow things to fall apart. This is not a time for finger-pointing. We must take immediate action and seek the cooperation of all parties concerned,” he added.

“We have been doing our best to help our MSMEs who are in trouble now, and yet some people want to make a joke out of this serious event. Introducing Project ARK to the public gives us a chance to further explain ways on how to combat the pandemic and sustain all lives and livelihoods. The key to opening up the economy sooner is to conduct massive testing using both rapid antibody and RT-PCR-based testing, which we endorse in the project,” he added.

Except for the hacking incident, the video conference went well with close to 400 participants tuning in.

“Two people did create some disturbance during the meeting, but they were immediately removed. This is the first time we’ve ever used Zoom with a huge number of participants. To clarify, there was nothing sensitive in our discussion as this was shown on Facebook Live as well to get more people to understand the importance of mass testing,” Concepcion said.

Earlier in his initial statement regarding rapid mass testing, Concepcion highlighted: “It’s a discussion between life and livelihood, or health and economy. When it comes down to choosing between life and livelihood, we must value life above all. It’s achieving that balance that preserves the health and the lives of our Filipino people, and ensuring that the economy and the livelihood of our MSMEs are not severely damaged. We want them to have a negosyo to look forward to when this whole crisis ends.”

Project ARK is anchored on the combined efforts of the government and businesses to make massive testing possible at the community level. The project will also launch a data-driven initiative and testing protocol that will help identify persons with antibodies against the virus and possible convalescent plasma donors.

Pilot tests have already been done in various barangays in Metro Manila as partner companies have donated test kits to different hospitals following the Department of Health protocol.