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DOH to formulate guidelines on use of COVID-19 testing methods

The Department of Health (DOH) will soon release a comprehensive set of guidelines on the use different COVID-19 testing methods in the country to "harmonize" detection strategies.

There are three types of tests available amid the pandemic: the rapid antibody test, the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), and the antigen test.

"Itong omnibus guidelines magpapakita 'yan ng iba't ibang testing methodologies natin at kung saan siya dapat gamitin, kailan siya appropriate na gamitin," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online forum.

"This would now guide all of our implementors at saka lahat ng general public alam nila kung anong klaseng test ang kailangan nila, kung anong stage ng illness sila nandoon ngayon," he added.

Vergeire said the rapid antibody test was not recommended for screening purposes because it would not detect the actual virus.

The RT-PCR test, which is considered the "gold standard," is very sensitive. It can detect the COVID-19 virus as early as two days before the onset of illness,  according to Vergeire.

The antigen test, meanwhile, is only recommended to be used when the patient is in the first five days of illness.

Vergeire said it might yield a false positive if the user was pre-symptomatic or was already in the sixth or seventh day of illness.

Other innovations may enter the market in the coming months and it is crucial to keep the public informed of their proper use, Vergeire said.

The DOH official said the omnibus guidelines were expected to be presented to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases next week before being released to the public. -NB, GMA News