Baguio to pilot test antigen for border control

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Public and Private health experts chose the city for the pilot testing of the anti-gen test to ascertain its efficacy to be used for effective border control and for visitors wanting to avail of the guided tours under the Ridge and Reef tourism bubble.

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said public and private health experts will assess the efficacy of the anti-gen test before this will be rolled out as one of the fastest way in ascertaining the presence of the infection in persons compared to the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test which is the gold standard for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

He claimed that all those who will be undergoing the RT-PCR test will be subjected to the antigen test and vice versa as one of the ways to ascertain the efficacy of the antigen test with the test results being readily available in 15 to 30 minutes compared to the RT-PCR test where results can only be made available in 2 to 3 days.

The city chief executive stated the city government will shoulder the expenses to be incurred in the antigen test,  estimated to be at least P1 million,  for the partial results to be submitted to the health experts of the health department within the week.

Earlier, Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) president Vince Dizon, who is also the National Task Force on Anti-COVID deputy chief implementer and testing czar, disclosed that the inter-agency task force on emerging infectious diseases already allowed the use of antigen test to ensure faster testing of suspected and probable COVID cases to allow local governments to implement the prevent, detect, isolate, treat and re-integrate strategy and prevent the spread of the deadly virus in their communities.

The mayor disclosed the antigen test is much cheaper as it only costs more or less P1,000 compared to the RT-PCR test that costs approximately P3,500 each.

According to him, the inclusion of the antigen test in the algorithm of the health department will help in speeding up the screening of suspected and probable COVID patients for them to be immediately isolated and prevented from transmitting the virus in their communities.

An antigen test is a diagnostic test suitable for point-of-care testing that directly detects the presence or absence of an antigen.

Under the antigen test, a specimen or sample is collected using the nasopharyngeal specimen more commonly known as the swab test and has a sensitivity of 96.52 percent and specificity of 99.68 percent.

Further, a positive result from the antigen test kit means that the case is a true positive and reportedly does not need to be validated with the PCR.

The health department is expected to release the guidelines governing the use of the antigen test once the public and private health experts shall have issued their findings and recommendations after the conduct of the pilot test of the antigen in the city for better border controls that will abate the spread of the virus. By Dexter A. See