DOH studying use of antigen self-test kits: spox

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2022 10:36 AM | Updated as of Jan 05 2022 06:23 PM

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MANILA (UPDATED) - The Department of Health (DOH) is studying the use of antigen self-test kits, its spokesperson said Wednesday.

Agency officials on Monday met with experts, the Food and Drug Administration, and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to discuss the proposal, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Kailangan lang ho natin masiguro na wala tayong misuse of the self-test antigen dahil alam naman po natin na meron po tayong tinatawag na 'right test at the right time' at appropriate use,” she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(We just need to ensure that there will be no misuse of the self-test antigen because there's what we call "right test at the right time" and appropriate use.)

"Pinag-aaraalan kung paano natin maisasagawa na hindi magkakaroon ng inaccurate results ang ating mga kababayan."

(We just need to study how the public can avoid getting inaccurate results.)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to "chime in" on the paramaters for allowing home tests, and a manufacturer needs to apply for permits for the kits that would be used, said Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting spokesman for Malacañang. 

"With this Omicron variant and as many other countries have been looking din at home test kits, it’s also something that we are also looking at," he said in a press briefing. 
 
The advantage with home tests is "you don’t have to go out and potentially infect other people when you have symptoms," said Dr. Edsel Salvana, of the DOH technical advisory group. 

He also noted that fully vaccinated individuals face a low risk of developing severe symptoms. He urged them to "stay put and not infect anybody else; home isolate."

"If you need testing, there are labs that do home testing and there are some LGUs that do home testing as well," he said in the same briefing. 

The Philippines' COVID-19 testing strategy remains targeted risk-based testing, said Health Secretary Francisco Duque. Coronavirus testing is covered under PhilHealth packages, he added.

"'Yun kasing mass testing medyo unang-una mahirap gawin dahil magastos ito, daang bilyon kakailangan mo para magsagawa ng mass testing," he said during a virtual public briefing.

(It's difficult to conduct mass testing because we need hundreds of billions for that.)

"Tayo risk-based pa rin ibig sabihin yung mga na-expose, mga symptom yun pa rin ang ating mga tinetest."

(We only conduct risk-based testing meaning we test those exposed to virus patients and those with symptoms.)

--With a report from Reuters