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Rapid Antibody Tests, ‘di maganda — Rex Tiri

Rapid Antibody Tests, ‘di maganda — Rex Tiri

HINDI pa pala kompleto ang naibahagi naming kuro-kuro ng producer na si Rex Tiri hinggil sa kung magpapa-Covid Test ba tayo o hindi.


“Why do I not want myself tested with covid even if I have an easy access to the test?

“This was the question I was asked after that long post last night. Part of my answer is already in that post. But please allow me to elaborate. This is again a lengthy one. Please bear with me. 

“As mentioned in my previous post, my other company, Lifeline, is in the forefront of covid testing in the Philippines. If only for commercial gains, I will be the happiest person if more people get tested. More testing means more financial rewards for me. But my conviction is otherwise. 

“Let me answer the question from the assumption that I am healthy, devoid of any symptom of covid, no underlying condition, not a frontliner, and not exposed to any covid positive individual. 

“I have two answers based on the testing principles now available in the Philippines. 

“MY FIRST ANSWER. I do not trust Rapid Antibody Tests. They only test for antibodies (not the virus) and their accuracy is bad. I learned from med tech school that A NO Result is better than a WRONG Result. So huwag na lang. 

“Please note that whatever sensitivity or specificity of the Rapid Antibody Test is there, that is only to the antibodies (again, not to the virus). For example, when it says 80% accuracy, it means that only 80% accurate to the antibodies and 0% to the virus itself. It will be good not to rely only on the claimed accuracy of the manufacturer, but rather look at the validation results done by a reputable third party evaluator, like RITM and WHO. These are unbiased assessments. 

“Take note also that this is a “novel” corona virus. Which means “new.” Developing an accurate test takes time. It needs many scientific studies and research, just like vaccine development. That explains why there are many available rapid antibody tests now, albeit not so accurate. Eventually, with more extensive research, we will have a better rapid test. Some medical societies have also released a statement regarding the adverse effects on using rapid antibody tests. The false positive and false negative results may only worsen the situation. It is so unfair of not letting someone report to work only because of a wrong result. 

“MY SECOND ANSWER. I will only further expose myself to the virus during swab collection for RT-PCR Test. Allow me to explain. 

“There are four areas of getting a swab sample:


“1. AT MY HOUSE. It means that a healthworker (let’s refer it as collector), in a full PPE gear to protect him, will come inside my house and take a swab sample. I do not want anyone at this time coming inside my house. Moreso that this someone may have been to many other houses, wearing the same PPE, collecting samples from other people. Some of whom maybe positive to the virus. The collector maybe bringing the virus inside my house. 

“2. AT MY PLACE OF WORK. It means that my company may designate an eclosed airconditioned collection area where all my co-workers would go, speak to the collector to answer some questions, removing their masks, and opening their mouths (if a throath swab). The plastic swab will then be taken out from the mouth, expose this in the air, before the collector put the swab in the viral transport media (VTM) and then seal it. I do not want to go in the same area and will also speak to the collector, remove my mask and then open my mouth. What if I have co-workers that are positive but asymptomatic and thought that they are not infected and still went to work and got a swab?

“3. AT THE SWAB BOOTHS OR MEGA SWABBING FACILITIES. I see some of these in open areas, so that’s good. But I will need to travel to get to these areas, that alone is already a risk. Of course I will observe physical distancing while in queue. When it’s my turn, I go near the booth, talk to the collector, remove my mask and then open my mouth. What if the person before me was positive? Scary. The swab sample is taken out, again exposed in the air. Pity is the person next to me, if by chance I am positive. And hey, some of the booths are provided with a fixed plastic hands (Hindi ko alam kung anong tawag dun kaya naghanap ako ng picture below). I cringed when I saw that. I wonder if they change or disinfect this every after one patient. They look expensive. I doubt if they change this for every person. I hope they do. The plastic hands are meant to protect the collector, not the patient. I also hope that the collector is provided with ample disposable hand gloves so he could change it every after one patient. I definitely do not want to be touched, with an open mouth, by a hand wearing the same gloves that touched another person, also with mouth open, collecting a covid sample. If I get the chance, I will also try to peep in his trash bin if there are soiled gloves in there. Better yet, I will demand that he should change gloves before he swabs me. I heard that many non-medical professionals are conducting the swabbing. If this is true, I hope they underwent a thorough training in handling infectious samples. 

“4. AT THE HOSPITAL. Anyone brave enough to go to the Emergency Room at this time? Or maybe to a designated collection area of a hospital? I am not! Especially when I am healthy and only need to do it because it is required by my company to go back to work. 


“My point here is, I am only subjecting myself to unnecessary exposure to the virus. This also happened to many people who were found initially positive to Rapid Antibody Testing only to find out later that they were negative on the PCR test. I can only imagine the fear they went through thinking that they were positive. I heard many PSG members had the same case. Worst, they only exposed themselves during the swab collection. And one of them was true positive after PCR testing! It maybe good to have them all tested again after several days. They might have unwittingly contracted the virus because one was positive among them. And consequently may have infected others that went near them. Well, I hope not. I do not want to create panic but…….

“So there. I will not in any way subject myself, or allow anyone close to me, or my co-workers go through these tests while we are healthy and do not have possible exposure to covid. Mas delikado. It may do more harm than good. 

“I would probably just do it when a credible testing for IgG Neutralizing Antibodies (sorry for the technicality) is available to establish past infection. Experts are saying that these neutralizing antibodies when present are the ones responsible for immunity. I will save that test for later when it’s available. I do not want to add burden to the already busy testing centers. But please do not get me wrong, if you have symptoms and had an exposure to a positive patient, go get the test. The benefits outweigh the risks. I hope the authorities will intensify expanding testing centers so there will be more people tested. 

“Salamat po ulit. Lagi po tayong mag-iingat.”

(Again, I am not claiming to be an expert to this. These are just my insights. Apologies again to my colleagues in the medical profession as I deliberately omitted some scientific terminologies to explain some points.)



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