Mankayan notes initial success of antigen test

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MANKAYAN, Benguet – The municipal government noted the successful use of the antigen test kit for symptomatic Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients leading to the  implementation of appropriate strategies to prevent the possible surge in the number of cases in the municipality.

Mayor Frenzel A. Ayong said that of the 3 symptomatic patients who initially tested positive in the antigen test, all of them turned out positive for COVID in the confirmatory reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, while the 2 individuals that tested negative in the antigen test also tested negative in the RT-PCR confirmatory test.

He claimed one of the biggest advantage of the antigen test is that those who tested positive will be immediately isolated from their families to prevent them from transmitting the virus while awaiting the results of the RT-PCR confirmatory test as what had happened in the case of the 3 patients that tested positive for the virus last week.

Earlier, the health department issued DOH Memorandum Circular No. 0468 that prescribed the guidelines for the use of the rapid antigen test for close contacts of confirmed COVID cases to help in screening and detecting potential COVID cases for appropriate action.

Mayor Ayong pointed out that the antigen will be an important screening and detection tool to effectively and efficiently manage suspected and probable COVID cases to abate possible local transmission of the virus that could eventually stress the town’s health facilities and overwhelm the frontliners, thus, the municipal government is eyeing the procurement of more antigen test kits compliant with the prescribed standards of the World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations.

According to him, the present antigen is far better than the previous rapid diagnostic test earlier used as a screening tool but which was not given the green light by the health department primarily because of quality control issues that cropped up when the same was used at the early stages of the Luzonwide lockdown.

He urged other local governments to try to use the antigen test kit as a screening and detection tool to identify members of the vulnerable sectors among their constituents who are suspected or probable carriers of the virus for timely response to prevent further spread of the virus.

Under the DOH guidelines, the antigen test can be used in cases when the RT-PCR test is not available and individuals who test positive for COVID can be subjected to the confirmatory test after 48 hours and if confirmed, the case will be included in the data of the health department.

Baguio City pilot tested several brands of the antigen test and one of them exceeded the prescribed 80 percent sensitivity and 97 specificity rate required by the FDA for the same to be allowed to be used for the ongoing testing around the country.

The antigen guidelines was handed down by the health department last October 26, 2020 after the results of the pilot test were forwarded to the experts who then crafted the regulations.