Cebu City to pilot pool testing among vendors
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City will be the pioneer city to implement the pooled swab testing initiative of Project Antibody Rapid Test Kit (ARK) that is the new way of swab testing to save tests kits and test more individuals for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
This was pushed by Iloilo Representative Jent Garin, the Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship, to allow a pool of samples to be tested as one.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the pooled swab testing means combining respiratory samples from several people and conducting one polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Pooling allows laboratories to test more samples with fewer testing materials. It could be useful in scenarios like returning groups of workers to the workplace.
Garin said that the pooling would be good for workplaces because it would help cut the cost of the swab test, which can cost an individual up to P3,000.
With a pooled test, the cost will go down to almost P400 per individual in the pooled sample.
This would also lessen the workload of the laboratories as at least 25 samples will be using only one test kit. Only the pooled test that proves positive will undergo individual PCR tests.
“This is the game-changer that would help us co-exist with COVID-19,” said Garin.
Mayor Edgardo Labella plans the pool testing to be distributed among sectors usually staying in one area such as vendors in the Carbon Market, hospital workers, and other closely related sectors.
The pool testing may begin in Cebu City starting the last week of August with 4,000 swabs to be conducted for the pilot project.
Market vendors in Carbon Market will be the first to undergo the pooled testing.
Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr., administrator of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), said medical technologists would still need to be trained for this new type of testing because new equipment would be used.
The pilot project is generally funded by private-sector donations through the Go Negosyo program.
If the pilot testing will be successful, the pooled testing will become open for the establishment to avail so they can test workers at a lower price./dbs
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