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T-Rex produ on to test or not to test

T-Rex produ on to test or not to test

AT may maganda ring ibinahagi ang film producer at may-ari ng restaurant (Limbaga 77) na si Rex Tiri na maaari nating kapulutan ng mahahalagang bagay.


“To my collegues in the film industry (pwede na rin sa iba pa),

“This is in regards to the queries I have been receiving on covid testing prior to a shoot. My apologies that this is a long one. 

“My name is Rex A. Tiri from T-Rex Entertainment. I am also the President of Lifeline Diagnostics, a company engaged in the importation and distribution of diagnostic and research products. I have been in this industry for more than 25 years. I am also a Registered Medical Technologist. Currently, Lifeline is in the forefront of providing products related to covid testing. 

“Many are asking me whether we should test our production staff prior to a shoot. My answer is a NO. I read the IGA guidelines and in there it is “recommended” that we should test. I am glad that it is only a recommendation and  not a requirement. I do not intend to test our staff before a shoot despite that I have an easy access to the test. I will not also do the testing with any of the workers in any of my companies unless they have symptoms or have been exposed to a confirmed positive patient. I have not undergone testing myself. 

“First, it is not being required by the authorities to do testing as a prerequisite in going back to work. Second, it really depends on your objective why you want to do the testing. In our case, I presume that there are two reasons why we want to test a person before a shoot:

“-to know if one is infected and has the virus and may infect other workers; and 

“- to know if one has been infected, thus may have immunity to the virus and can no longer be infected. 

“On the first reason, the only way to do this is to perform RT-PCR because it detects the actual virus. Maybe it would be good also to test for Total Antibodies to address the limitations of the PCR. You see, PCR could be the gold standard test but has its limitations as well. It may also yield a negative result even when you are positive, as it is dependent on proper collection of swab samples, proper transport of the sample to the laboratory, skills of the technologist doing the run, and the period from the time of infection when the sample is taken. So having a reliable total antibody test may show you a bigger picture on the state of one patient. 

“I think by this time, we all know that there is a shortage of the PCR test and in case you are lucky and was tested, it takes days before you get the results. Assuming that you are negative and you get the results immediately, then you can say that you do not have the virus, thus you are fit to work. But take note that you are only negative during the time of collection of the swab sample. After that and you get exposed, the result could already be different. The only way to do this so it becomes effective is to collect the swab sample, do the PCR test and wait for the results, but do not expose yourself to anyone during this time. If your result is negative, then you can report to work. And then, do the test again on the next shooting day as you may have been exposed again from the time of the first testing to the next shooting day. And then repeat on the next. This is a logistical nightmare. I also do not think that we have an access to the PCR test at this time. We simply are not in the priority list of those needed to be tested. And PCR test is very expensive – it ranges from 2k to 8k per test. Imagine if we do this to all staff every shooting day. And did I mention how painful it is to have a nasopharyngeal swabbing?

“On the second reason, immunity to the virus has not been established. It means that you may have contracted the virus, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, but may still not be protected in having a re-infection. Currently, there is a great debate by the experts on this. Besides, initial studies would show that a mere percentage of the population have developed “potential” immunity. Many studies are on-going. Let’s wait for these. 

“The more popular and available test on this is the Rapid Antibody Test. This is much easier to have an access to, as many even in social media, are selling these. But please note that these tests are not accurate as you may have heard. The test could give a result that you are positive even when you are not, and could also tell you that you are negative even if you have the virus. The DOH has not recommended this test if it is not in conjunction with the PCR test. Please please please note that the Rapid Test DOES NOT detect the virus itself but only to antibodies to the virus. It means that you may have the virus and can infect others but you could have a negative result. 

“With this, my humble recommendation when we soon get back to shoot our films is to observe the minimum health standards – check the temperature of each personnel periodically, practice physical distancing (to be honest, is this even possible in a shoot?), disinfect frequently, wear a mask (N95 or surgical mask if available, not a cloth mask as this only gives minimal protection), etc. 

“For me, testing before a shoot is just a waste of resources and gives us that false sense of security. We do not want our staff to be complacent knowing that they “were” negative on the covid test. This is even more dangerous. 

“Salamat po!”

(I am not claiming to be an expert to this. Of course, each production company may have their own protocol. Also, to my colleagues in the medical profession, pardon me as I tried not to be very scientific in my explanation.)

Masunod at may susunod kaya?



ni Pilar Mateo

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