The country’s health and science experts on Wednesday, June 2, warned the public against having themselves tested for the presence of 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID 19) antibodies, warning that tests easily available still have limitations and could only erode public confidence on vaccines.
In a briefing for the House Committee on Health, officials and experts from the Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology and other stakeholders disclosed on-going studies and other efforts of government and the World Health Organization to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
Getting much attention among the presentations was the study on the real-world vaccine effectiveness that will be undertaken from July 2021 to June 2022 by the National Institute on Health-University of the Philippines Manila.
The P115-million study called SECURE Philippines seeks to conduct a clinical and serologic COVID-19 surveillance among adults who have received full vaccination against the virus.
Project leader Dr. Regina Berba revealed that the three-phased project will start with the medical staff, health workers and employees of the Philippine General Hospital.
The second focus will be communities at the National Capital Region then to other regions in the country.
Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina Tan, chairperson of the health panel, has revealed the results of a test she and her husband took to determine the level of antibodies they each have after getting similar brand of COVID-19 jabs.
Tan said that the results disclosed that her husband Public Works and Highways Regional Director Ronnel Tan had positive antibody results while hers revealed “negative”.
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin also queried the resource persons on the effectiveness of anibody tests available in the market, pointing out that unless experts are able to educate the public about its usage and effects, vaccine confidence will remain a problem in the country.
“Individually, we do not recommend antibody tests. We have to be careful with the choice of the antibody test,” said Berba.
On the other hand, Dr. Nina Gloriani, head of the Vaccine Development Expert Panel of the Department of Science and Technology, explained that results from tests vary because individuals do not have the same level of response to COVID-19 vaccines.
“Kahit magkaroon ng zero (antibodies), iyong iba diyan ay poor responders sa two weeks (Even if the result is zero, others are poor responders in two weeks), there are individuals whose antibodies are detected a little later than what you could measure,” explained Gloriani.
She called on the public not to get themselves tested ‘if you do not know” the results are interpreted.