Using rapid tests to check for COVID-19 'like a coin toss': doctor

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2020 10:42 AM | Updated as of Aug 05 2020 10:43 AM

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MANILA – A medical expert on Wednesday likened the use of rapid antibody test as basis for diagnosis for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) positive patients to a coin toss. 

“Hindi ito ginagamit pang diagnosis. Hindi rin ganun ka-accurate 'yung sensitivity, parang 50 precent lang. Parang mag-totoss lang tayo ng coin, either head or tail lang ‘yan. That’s why ‘di natin nirerecommend ‘yan as diagnosis,” said. Dr. Maricar Limpin, vice president of the Philippine College of Physicians. 

Limpin, in an interview on ABS-CBN Teleradyo, said that based on studies, antibodies produced by the body to fight infection can be seen in majority of individuals 2 weeks after the onset of symptoms.

“Hindi ibig sabihin ng negative na talagang wala kayong infection. Ang chance na mag-ne-negative kayo 50 percent kahit may infection. So ang problema d'yan kahit meron kang infection, dahil nag negative ka masaya ang tao, not knowing na nakaka-infect sila sa kapuwa nila,” she said. 
 
She added that even the World Health Organization does not recommend the use of rapid anti-body test to diagnose COVID-19. 

“Maaring may iba siyang use pero hindi po for diagnosis. Never po para sa diagnosis for COVID-19. Ang taas kasi ng false negativity n’yan. Kaya ang problema natin maraming tao positive sa COVID-19 and yet negative sa rapid anti-body test,” she said. 

Limpin said they only recommended RT-PCR or the swab test to patients who already show symptoms of the virus like fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of smell and taste. 

“Pag walang simtomas baka useless lang na magpa swab,” she said. 

She reiterated that rapid antibody test may still serve other purposes but not as immediate diagnosis for COVID-19. 

“Sa amin po alam namin kung paano gagamitin ang rapid antibody test. Usually nagagamit para makita lang kung nagkaroon na ba ng antibody 'yung tao. What is important makita natin kung may anti-body na 'yung tao kasi 'yung plasma ng tao na 'yun, lalo na kung mataas, puwede mag donate magagamit po ‘yan naman para sa mga pasyenteng very severe ang COVID para meron silang panlaban,” she said.