By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion on Wednesday asked medical groups to provide a “better solution” to detect coronavirus disease (COVID-19) amid opposition to the rapid testing initiative of the private sector.
“These people (using rapid test kits) are intelligent. These kits have been proven effective for a long time. Why is it that countries are exporting this? And why are they using it in their own countries and they were able to control the virus? These doctors, if they have a better solution, what is the better solution?” Concepcion said during the Laging Handa press briefing on Wednesday.
A group of medical practitioners issued a joint statement last Tuesday saying that “false positive results” are very likely when rapid antibody tests are used in an asymptomatic population.
“It is better to test than not to test” Concepcion said. “If the economy closes down again, many Filipinos will lose their jobs.”
He pointed out that the private sector has no capacity yet to utilize the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR testing due to its high cost. He said an RT-PCR test costs around ₱4,000-₱8,000, as against rapid antibody test kit that costs only ₱450.
More test kits, RT-PCR machines
Concepcion is the lead initiator of Project Ark, working together with the biggest economic players and business conglomerates in the country and aiming to ramp up mass testing in order to safely revive the economy.
He said around 500,000 rapid test kits are now being delivered to 205 companies.
“All these testing will be done starting Wednesday, May 20 until the next two weeks,” he added.
RT-PCR testing equipment arrived last Tuesday for delivery to six government hospitals through the assistance of Project Ark.
“There are more donors that will help in the RT-PCR or the swab testing because both the DOH (Department of Health) and Red Cross are trying to attain its 30,000 (per day) testing capacity by the end of this month,” he said.
With our help, that will increase the chances of them attaining that level of testing,” he added.
Serum prevalence test
Concepcion said Project Ark will soon begin the implementation of serum prevalence test in the 16 Metro Manila cities, as well as in Laguna.
“(These areas) will be taking part in the study that will measure the level of infection using rapid test kits. Every month, we will see if the level of infection is increasing or decreasing. I think we will be doing this for four months. If the study is successful, then we can cover the entire Luzon, and eventually, our donors may consider also covering other critical areas in the Philippines,” he said. (Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz)