Duterte economic adviser eyes 'pooled' coronavirus tests to cut costs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 12 2020 10:53 AM

An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from Thailand holds his 2-year-old son as he covers his nose at a swab testing center for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Manila on May 13, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said Friday the private sector was looking at pooled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to make the process cheaper.

Pooled PCR testing, wherein more than 5 samples will be placed in a single test kit, is being studied to give businesses an alternative aside from the rapid test kit that identify antibodies instead of the virus, Concepcion said. 

Several medical groups earlier opposed the use of rapid test kits, which Concepcion endorses, due to high false positive cases. 

Using PCR tests to confirm COVID-19 cases is the "gold standard" in testing, the Department of Health earlier said.

"Pooled PCR testing is something that’s being done in other countries...You speed up the process of testing, you cut down the cost of testing as well," he said. 

"Accessibility and affordability is our objective," he added.

Concepcion said he met with the Philippines Medical Association who agreed that "it's better to test than not to test."

The PMA, the private sector's Project Ark and other companies will "solidify" testing efforts to rescue the economy from the pandemic fallout, he said. 

Metro Manila transitioned to general community quarantine on June 1, to allow the gradual reopening of the economy. More workers were allowed to go back to work, with some undergoing rapid tests paid for by their employers.