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PSMID reiterates warning over COVID-19 rapid testing

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The Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) on Friday reiterated that using rapid antibody tests (RATs) for COVID-19 may lead to “unintended harm” given the high possibility of a false positive.

“[T]he inappropriate use of RATs in clearance for return to work, may lead to unintended harm to our workforce, our frontliners and our already strained health system,” PSMID said in a statement.

Presidential Adviser on Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. "Joey" Concepcion III earlier pushed for the use of rapid tests to screen employees returning to work following the easing of lockdown restrictions.

While PSMID agreed with Concepcion’s belief that companies have suffered losses due to the lockdown, it added that unnecessary laboratory tests for rapid test kits would “compound these losses.”

Concepcion had criticized the PSMID over its warnings against the use of RATs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

During a Laging Handa briefing, Concepcion said doctors who were against the use of RATs “keep on talking but are doing nothing.”

Concepcion later apologized for his criticisms but added that he was only referring to a certain group of doctors and scientists, and that he was not speaking out against doctors in general.

However, the PSMID said Concepcion attacked all doctors of other specialties in the country, as the statement they released was signed by several medical associations nationwide.

Moreover, the PSMID also said they offered a better option to clear people for work using the 14-day test.

"If he (Concepcion) had read our guidelines, he would have learned that we offered a better option to clear people for work — the 14-day test (absence of symptoms for 14 days from time of exposure for contacts, and from time of relief and symptoms for suspects and cases)," the group said.

"This clinical test is more accurate than the antibody test and it incurs no additional costs for laboratory procedures,” the PSMID added.

While PSMID respected Concepcion’s opinion, they did urge him to understand the doctors’ position.

“We do not wish to pick a fight with you Mr. Concepcion. We cannot be enemies. We already have a formidable one and that is COVID-19,” it said.

“If he finds anything amiss, he can offer constructive criticism. An attack on our person rather than on our stand is absolutely uncalled for.” — DVM, GMA News

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