The government has given the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) the green light to buy 500,000 rapid antigen test kits in a bid to test, isolate, and treat as many people as possible in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has issued a resolution allowing the OCD to use quick response funds for the procurement of these diagnostic kits that detect protein fragments specific to the coronavirus.
The massive purchase of the antigen diagnostic test kits aim to “ensure the swift detection of cases and tracing of close contacts,” according to the latest IATF Resolution No. 108.
“The Office of the Civil Defense is hereby authorized to procure using their Quick Response Fund under the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management or such other available funds, an initial Five Hundred Thousand (500,000) pieces of any of the following Rapid Antigen Test Kits authorized by the Food and Drug Administration,” the resolution read.
The IATF has so far identified three brands of rapid antigen test brands that will be purchased by the government. These are Standard Q COVID-19 Ag Test manufactured by SD Biosensor Inc., Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device manufactured by Abbot; Wondfo 2019-nCoV Antigen Test manufactured by Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech Co. Ltd.
The first two brands have so far passed the validation of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) as well as secured an Emergency Use Listing of the World Health Organization.
The Wondfo antigen test was not included in WHO’s emergency use list but received validation from the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Laboratory Strengthening and Diagnostic Technology Evaluation, according to the IATF.
Other antigen test kits that may be approved by relevant health authorities may also be purchased by the OCD, the task force added.
In the same resolution, the IATF has ordered the use of these rapid antigen test kits in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal, which remains under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 11 to curb the rapid surge in coronavirus cases.
The test kits will also be utilized in the provinces of Pampanga and Batangas. Pampanga remained under modified general community quarantine while Batangas is under general community quarantine for the month of April.
“The utilization, including qualified persons to undergo said tests, and reporting of these Rapid Antigen Test Kits shall comply with the guidelines of the Department of Health,” the IATF resolution read.
The government has decided to step up testing efforts to detect more people with the illness following the increasing cases of coronavirus in the country. The country currently uses the laboratory-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, considered gold standard in the diagnosis of coronavirus.
As of April 5, the country has recorded 795,051 cases, including 135,526 active cases and 13,425 deaths. Around 26,000 people go tested with 22.7 percent positivity rate last weekend.