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DOH warns anew vs antigen test for COVID-19 screening
THE Department of Health (DOH) reiterdated its warning against the indiscriminate use of rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 screening in workplaces and in public events.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stressed that rapid tests are appropriate only to test people with COVID-19 symptoms and those who have been exposed to infected people.
“But if used as screening to go to work or to go to an event like weddings or birthday parties where there will be many people, the antigen test will not give the correct result,” she said.
Vergeire also said that using rapid antigen tests for screening would be a waste of resources and would yield inaccurate results.
“Once we have false negative results, many people will be going around unknowingly spreading the virus,” she said, adding that a positive antigen test result still has to be confirmed through an RT-PCR test.
The DOH official pointed out that while the RT-PCR is expensive, costing around P3,000 and the specimen taken from a swab from the nose and mouth has to be processed in a laboratory for a day or two, it is the most accurate COVID-19 test and remains to be the gold standard for confirming the presence of SARS-CoV-2.
The DOH explained that rapid antigen tests are useful during the “acute phase of the disease,” which is within five days after the onset of symptoms.