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DOH: Pooled testing for COVID-19 undergoing ethics review

The pooled testing of samples for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is now undergoing an ethics review by the Single Joint Research Ethics Board, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that pooled testing refers to the process of grouping different samples together to maximize laboratory capacity.

“Ipagsasama-sama po ang ibang specimens, at kung negative ang pooled sample, ibig sabihin, negative ang lahat ng specimen na bumubuo no’ng sample na ‘yon,” she said.

“Kasalukuyan pong sumasailalim sa ethics review… bago magsimula ang pilot study ng pooled testing sa RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine),” she added, referring to the country’s national reference laboratory and largest COVID-19 testing center.

Vergeire also said the ethics review will help identify the appropriate number of specimens for pooled testing and which laboratories are capable of performing such tests.

“Sa pamamagitan ng pooled testing, higit pang tataas ang ating testing capacity,” she said.

Former health chief and incumbent Iloilo Representative Janette Garin principally authored a bill that seeks to maximize government resources by utilizing pooled testing among the vulnerable population.

The measure passed the second reading at the House of Representatives last June 1.

The private sector initiative Project Antibody Rapid Test Kit has also launched a study on pooled testing for COVID-19. -MDM, GMA News