MANILA - The Research Institute on Tropical Medicine (RITM) has found no evidence that RT-PCR tests taken by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) were contaminated.
The local Red Cross' RT-PCR tests have been assailed by President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies for allegedly yielding false positives.
Duterte and his allies in the House of Representatives earlier alleged that the test results of 48 hospital personnel in Subic, who were declared COVID-19 positive by the Red Cross after a swab test, turned out to be "false positives" after undergoing confirmatory tests in another molecular laboratory.
The President then said the Department of Health should investigate the reports on Red Cross' COVID-19 tests.
In a letter to Dr. Michael John Talamayan, head of the Red Cross RT-PCR Laboratory in Subic, DOH Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago said the RITM did not find evidence of contamination for the 48 samples tested in Subic.
"The results released by PRC Subic for the concerned cases were found to be valid and reliable," Santiago said.
According to the DOH, false positive test results usually arise from contamination within any steps leading into the PCR testing. The department said it employed several methodologies and investigated all possible procedures wherein errors may have occurred in the testing of the 48 personnel.
The Philippine Red Cross in a statement said it was "grateful to the RITM for its unbiased investigation into the matter."
"As it is auxiliary to the government, they fully support its testing and vaccination program," it said.
The PRC said it has been a "victim of unsubstantiated allegations" in recent months.
"This is due to damning evidence against involved parties in the awarding of more than P8.7 billion in contracts for overpriced medical supplies to an undercapitalized company under the Bayanihan to Heal Act," it said.
Duterte's comment on the supposed false positives in tests conducted by the PRC came days after its chairman, Sen. Richard Gordon, led an investigation into government's pandemic transactions, including procurement of allegedly overpriced supplies from a firm with supposed ties to a former economic adviser of the President.
Duterte accused him of using the humanitarian organization for his political agenda, and threatened to "disassociate" the government from the PRC if it refused to undergo a state audit.