A HOUSE leader on Sunday called for a comprehensive review of the accuracy of all brands of coronavirus diseas-19 (COVID-19) tests being used by the Department of Health (DoH) and licensed laboratories across the country.
“The DOH should discourage if not stop altogether the use of unreliable COVID-19 tests that produce high rates of false-negative results,” said Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor, the chairman of the House public accounts committee chairperson.
“We are investing P1.9 billion in COVID-19 screening, and the DoH should see to it that the money is spent only on the most dependable tests,” Defensor, also House health committee vice chairperson, stressed.
Defensor warned that the DoH and authorized laboratories “could be wasting precious time and resources” redoing thousands of COVID-19 tests due to the large volume of false-negative results obtained from defective tests.
“We’ve gathered that there are some brands of COVID-19 tests that return up to 20 percent false-negative results, which is unacceptable,” said Defensor.
Defensor expressed concern that erroneous results from flawed tests may be falsely reassuring patients that they are not infected with the virus.
“Falsely reassured patients can contribute to the spread of the disease without them knowing it,” said Defensor.
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released P1.9 billion to the DoH to cover the funding requirements for the procurement of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2) detection kits enough for some 918,000 tests.
“In the spirit of transparency,” the U.S. Food Drug Administration recently cautioned the public about the reliability of a widely used test for the coronavirus.
“We are counting on the DoH to track closely the accuracy of all brands of COVID-19 tests – regardless of their country of origin – so that we may be properly guided as to which of them offer the best value for money for long-term use in the country,” Defensor said.
Defensor also urged DoH to publicly disclose the cumulative number of COVID-19 tests that have been performed since March, and the number of tests that had to be rerun due to inaccurate or false-negative results.