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  • RITM Says COVID-19 Results Can Be Given Within 72 Hours; FDA Approves Rapid Testing Kits

    Both agencies want to conduct COVID-19 tests to more individuals as much as possible.
    by Kitty Elicay .
RITM Says COVID-19 Results Can Be Given Within 72 Hours; FDA Approves Rapid Testing Kits
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  • In a bid to test more individuals against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) announced that it can now run up to 1,000 tests a day and that it has shortened the turnaround time for test results between 48 to 72 hours.

    “We used to do 300 tests a day. Now we expanded. There are more laboratories within RITM (doing the COVID-19 tests). We can now process 900 to 1,000 tests per day,” said RITM Director Celia Carlos during a Department of Health press conference as reported by ABS-CBN News.

    In addition, the five COVID-19 testing laboratories previously accredited by the RITM — Baguio General Hospital & Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, and the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) — can each run up to 200 samples per day.

    Carlos attributed the faster turnaround time to RITM’s expansion as well as the additional COVID-19 test kits received by the government.

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    FDA approves rapid COVID-19 test kits

    Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of five brands of rapid test kits that are “registered and used in countries with advanced technology and wide experience with COVID-19,” said FDA Director General Eric Domingo in a statement. These countries are China and Singapore.

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    As the name suggests, rapid tests kits can give faster results compared to the DOH’s real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based test kits. This is because it only measures the antibodies from a patient’s blood sample, compared to RT-PCR, which extracts genetic material from throat and nose swab samples and then compares it to the COVID-19 virus.

    Domingo emphasized that a trained health professional must be the one to evaluate and interpret the test results. “We have to be cautious in using these rapid test kits because they measure antibodies and not the viral load itself. The body takes time to develop antibodies and this might give a negative result for patients who have been infected but antibodies have not yet developed,” the Director General said.

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    He adds, “A positive result due to cross reaction and with other bacteria or viruses is also possible, which is why a confirmatory PCR-based test is still required.”

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    According to FDA, they will strictly implement that all commercially-available test kits have the following label: “This product is strictly for medical professional use only and not intended for personal use. The administration of the test and the interpretation of results should be done by a trained health professional. Confirmatory testing is required.”

    So far, the FDA has approved 17 COVID-19 test kits for commercial use. This includes a new PCR-based test kit manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, which can identify the virus in five minutes. The agency is also working on allowing the commercial sale of locally-made test kits within the week.

    As of this writing, the DOH has announced 1,546 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 78 dead and 42 recoveries.

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    Stories of patients recovering from COVID-19 can give hope during this time. Click here to read PH358's personal experience. For more stories on COVID-19, click here.

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