Solon seeks pooled sampling for coronavirus testing

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 21 2020 10:10 AM | Updated as of Jun 21 2020 10:14 AM

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MANILA - Former health secretary, now lawmaker Janette Garin said Sunday she has proposed pooled sampling strategy to increase coronavirus testing in local governments and workplaces.

One coronavirus test will cover groups of 5, 10, or 20 Filipinos, Garin said.

"In blood testing, ginagamit ito, ang dami po nating sakit na ginagamitan ng pooled testing. Kung gusto natin malaman ang prevalence sa isang lugar, ang pooled testing ay hindi po bago," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(It is used in blood testing and many other ilnnesses. If we want to know the disease's prevalence in an area, pooled testing is not new.)

"Ang assumption dito, kung may prevalence ka ng 5 percent, ang isang opisina o lugar na may 10,000 katao, if you swab all of them, ang positibo d'yan would be around 200 people. Yung 10,00 people will only have 1,000 tests. So, sigurado ka na dun sa 1,000 tests, 800 dyan negative, which will actually transcend to 800 people. Imagine the huge savings. Di mao-overwhelm ang ating laboratoryo."

(The assumption here is, if you have 5 percent prevalance in a population of 10,000, if you swab all of them, some 200 people will test positive. The population will be given 1,000 tests. So you're sure 800 will test negative, which will actually transcend to 800 people. Imagine the huge savings. Our laboratories will not be overwhelmed.)

The study will be conducted by the Philippine Society of Pathologists Inc. (PSPI) in collaboration with the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship, and its results will be released in 2 weeks, Garin said.

"Kasama sa research design na yung pooled sampling na irerekomenda ay hindi bababa yung kaniyang epekto sa 90 percent accuracy and sensitivity," she said.

(The research design includes the recommendation to not fall below 90 percent accuracy and sensitivity.)

Some 2 to 3 coronavirus test kits will be used to give everyone an option, she added.

Government conducted some 15,000 tests for the virus on June 16, according to National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. 

The Philippines has 62 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories, of which 40 are public and 22 are private. More than 150 other laboratories are awaiting accreditation.

As of Saturday, the Philippines has recorded 29,400 cases of COVID-19, with 7,650 recoveries and 1,150 deaths.