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DOH rules out ban on rapid antibody test for COVID-19

The Department of Health (DPH) will not ban the use of rapid antibody test for COVID-19 because it can be effective for those who already recovered from the disease, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said Monday.

Vergeire was referring to the rapid antibody test which tests individuals for antibodies IgM (immunoglobulin) and IgG (immunoglobulin G). Testing positive for IgM is a sign of active infection, not necessarily COVID-19, while testing positive for IgG indicates that a person had recovered from that infection.

“Hindi naman kailangan i-ban kasi may gamit pa rin siya sa ating response,” Vergeire said in a virtual press briefing.

“Puwede gamitin ang rapid antibody test sa mga nakaka-recover na, or puwede na ma-tag as recovered. Kasi on the 21st day of the illness of the patient, accurate o sensitive na ang rapid test para makapag-show siya kung nakapag-develop na ang pasyente ng IgG na nagi-indicate na naka-recover na ang pasyente,” she explained.

Vergeire, however, strongly cautioned against using rapid anti-body test for COVID-19 screening purposes.

“We are not rally totally banning. Kailangan lang appropriate ang use. Hindi talaga puwede for screening," Vergeire said.

The government has implemented a mandatory testing for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test for those with COVID-19 symptoms in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine where there is clustering of COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Antonio Dans of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine earlier said that rapid test should not be used anymore since it gives the public a false sense of security and could have led to increased community transmissions of COVID-19.

The Philippines has recorded 129,913 COVID-19 cases thus far. Of this number, 67,675 have recovered while 2,270 died. The number of active COVID-19 cases is at 59,968. KBK, GMA News