IATF OKs pilot study on antigen testing for local border virus screening

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 18 2020 03:26 PM

MANILA— The government's COVID-19 pandemic response task force has approved a pilot study on the use of antigen testing as a virus detector for cross-border travel.

Based on a Sept. 17 resolution of the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 response, the pilot study will cover interzonal travel in the Philippines "considering cross-border differences in quarantine status and the prevalence level of transmission" of the virus.

Some areas covered by specialized programs of the Department of Tourism are also covered by the pilot study, such as Baguio City.

The use of the test is expected to be a "game-changer" in the country's fight against COVID-19 due to the faster turnover rate, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Antigen tests also use swab samples and measures a substance in a person's body that could generate immune response against COVID-19.

The test is said to be more specific than the rapid antibody tests but is still not as accurate as real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, which are regarded as the "gold standard" in COVID-19 detection.

Earlier this month, the government also approved the use of antigen tests to screen local air travelers for COVID-19.