Private sector to launch massive rapid testing for coronavirus 2019 soon

By: Irene R. Sino Cruz - Correspondent/CDN Digital | April 12,2020 - 05:35 PM

Joey Concepcion, Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship and founder of Go Negosyo, confirmed that the private sector will undertake massive rapid testing for the coronavirus 2019. | Go Negosyo photo

CEBU CITY—The private sector will soon launch massive rapid testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), said Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion.

In a news release posted Sunday, April 12, 2020, on the Go Negosyo website, Concepcion said that the move was discussed during a consultative meeting, held last April 9. National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 chair and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, NTF chief implementer General Carlito Galvez, industry and business leaders, and executives of large and medium conglomerates attended the said meeting.

For the past weeks, Concepcion said, both the private and public sectors held productive dialogues, sharing ideas, strategies, and proposals on how to better manage the virus while keeping the economy afloat.

These recommendations were based on the ideas shared by the private sector group particularly former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit, Dr. Rizzy Alejandro of the Ayala Group and Dr. Minguita Padilla, clinical associate professor at the Philippine General Hospital-UPCM.

One of the key strategies recommended was the selective barangay quarantine, which was supported by the secretaries.

“These two strategies are very important to ensure that after the 6-week lockdown we continue to remain guarded against the resurgence of the virus,” Concepcion said.

Business owners have agreed to initiate their own massive rapid testing in their respective companies and the barangays wherein they operate.

The objective is to determine the number of people who might have the coronavirus and those who have already built immunity to it after overcoming the illness.

“By ensuring continued testing and the gathering of more data, the government and other agencies can develop a more strategic and comprehensive mitigation plan. Through this, we can also better help our frontliners – most especially doctors and nurses who are manning the hospitals – and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs). Once public confidence is reinstated, the Filipino working-class can get back to their jobs at the soonest possible time and revive the economy,” Concepcion explained.

Private sector companies will proceed with the targeted testing of barangay residents within the next few weeks to measure the level of risk and actual infection within a community, especially Metro Manila.

All procedures and guidelines will follow the Department of Health protocols, particularly the DM 2020-0151 that expands community testing to include both PCR and rapid antibody testing.

At present, the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and the antibody test are the most used by global healthcare systems in testing citizens for COVID-19.

The PCR determines if there is a live virus in the sick subject, while the antibody test confirms the presence of COVID-19-specific antibodies in the blood.  The presence of the IgM immunoglobulin is indicative of active disease while the presence of the IgG immunoglobulin is indicative of recovery and immunity.

The PCR test can help in efforts to contain the disease because it facilitates the identification of sick persons and contact-tracing.

The antibody test, on the other hand, can help estimate the real number of cases and assess the extent of immunity in a general population or subgroups.  It could also catch some mildly asymptomatic patients with the disease who do not usually make it to the hospital, which can help lessen the spread of the disease in the community.

“We want to use the rapid test kits properly and strategically. The use of the right testing kits is key here. They must be able to detect IgM and IgG distinctively. These kits will be validated. Determining the presence of IgG can determine who had the infection, had recovered and who may already have immunity and thus be able to reenter the workforce and restart the economy,” Dr. Padilla said.

Dr. Padilla as well as Dr. Rontgene Solante, chief of the Infectious Disease Section of the San Lazaro Hospital, and Dr. Vicente Belizario, Dean of the UP College of Public Health, have lent their services and expertise to this mass testing effort.

If widely and rapidly applied here in the Philippines, it can also provide the government and other agencies a clearer view of what steps have to be taken to further contain the coronavirus 2019.

“We are now in the process of determining the number of companies who will want to join and support this program in order to screen their employees and help the barangays around them,” Concepcion said.

“Sample testing on groups will be done to gauge the level of risk. The rapid testing can identify the number people who are currently infected and those who have built immunity to the disease. We are in a modern-day war, and this is ‘bayanihan’ in action. TOGETHER, WE WILL WIN AND HEAL AS ONE,” Concepcion ended. / dcb

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TAGS: Concepcion, consultative meeting, COVID-19, Go Negosyo, massive rapid testing, private sector

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