Laboratory results of PH Red Cross Subic validated by RITM as 'valid, reliable'

Published October 18, 2021, 5:53 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Monday, Oct. 18, welcomed the findings of the investigation conducted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on the laboratory results of its Molecular Laboratory in Subic.


“The PRC is grateful to the RITM for its unbiased investigation into the matter,” the humanitarian organization said in a statement.

Last month, the Lower House questioned the 45 false positive results out of 48 RT-PCR swab tests administered in September 2020 at the Subic Baypointe Hospital and tested at the PRC Molecular Laboratory in Subic.

The RITM, which is under the Department of Health (DOH) — which oversees all molecular labs — was then tasked to investigate the incident.

On Oct. 13, the RITM completed its investigation and issued the results to the PRC. In its letter, it was stated that it “found no evidence of contamination for the forty-eight (48) cases tested by PRC Subic laboratory and the results were found to be valid and reliable.”

‘Victim’ of unsubstantiated allegations

Soon after the allegations broke out, the PRC immediately issued a statement that the test methodology and procedures were standardized in all its laboratories which were given a 100% rating when subjected to RITM proficiency tests.

The PRC also disclosed that it immediately conducted test re-runs at its own cost due to the unusually high positive results; although the output remained the same.

It further stated that the timing of tests done relative to exposure is a factor that may produce different results; thus, “re-tests done in a different laboratory from samples taken three days after the first test could very well produce negative results since the clients could already be negative by the time the second samples were taken.”

In recent months, PRC said it has found itself a “victim of unsubstantiated allegations.”

This, it added, is due to damning evidence against involved parties in the awarding of more than P8.7 billion in contracts for overpriced medical supplies to an undercapitalized company under the Bayanihan to Heal Act.

Senator Richard Gordon has been leading the investigation of the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee as its Chairman.

Gordon is also the Chairman and CEO of the PRC, under whose watch the humanitarian organization has undergone an intensive modernization program.

Despite the allegations, PRC said it continues to fully support the testing and vaccination program as it is auxiliary to the government.

PRC noted that at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 — when the RITM could only conduct up to 300 tests a day — PhilHealth approached PRC to establish molecular laboratories to address the need for more extensive testing.

Currently, the PRC has 14 molecular laboratories nationwide. It is capable of running up to 48,000 tests a day.

The laboratories of PRC account for more than 21 percent of all tests conducted in the country. To date, it has conducted more than 4.6 million tests nationwide.