Pooled testing for COVID-19 pushed

August 05, 2020

AS the country continues to look for ways to curb the spread of COVID-19, pooled testing was proposed anew for being cost-efficient and for its capability of providing a clearer picture of the prevalence of the disease in a specific area.

"Isinusulong natin itong pooled testing na sinimulan na namin gawin through Project ARK RT-PCR Initiative. Mula sa kasalukuyang presyo ng P4,500 to P8,000 bawat tao sa isang test, mapapababa natin ang presyo nito hanggang P350 kada tao sa pooled testing, " former Health secretary and now Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said in a statement.

Garin is the principal author of House Bill 6865, or “Crushing COVID-19 Act,” which pushes pooled PCR testing to cover the vulnerable sectors.

Under the pooled testing method, swab samples of multiple individuals will go through a single PCR test. If a positive result comes from a single batch of pooled tests, further individual assessments will be made.

On the other hand, if the swab test of multiple individuals comes back negative, then individual tests need not be performed.

"When health meets economy, when massive testing is done in unison with social distancing, hygiene practices and other new normal behaviors, when the public and private sectors cooperate, when the national and local government units work hand-in-hand, we can co-exist with COVID and win while we await a vaccine, " she said.

Garin also noted that the reimposition of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila and other nearby provinces may prevent the possible collapse of the country's healthcare system and give a little breathing space for frontline health workers.

However, Garin said community quarantine is not the sole solution for COVID-19, saying it needs to be parallel with continuous efforts to curb the virus and its transmission.

"We need to attack COVID, not just wait for it to show via the symptoms manifested by patients. We need to keep on testing and immediately isolate the positives while allowing the negatives to help our economy recover," she said