Bugged with the limited slots for the RT-PCR swab test examination in Davao City, the City of Mati Incident Management Team decided to purchase an initial of 1,000 pieces of Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits that will tremendously cut the waiting time for the test result of possible Covid-19 carriers.

Mati IMT head Dr. Ben Hur Catbagan Jr. the RAT result will come out in 15 minutes to less than an hour thereby cutting the waiting time and the IMT can readily take action.

“It’s a test for contagiousness. Swab test din sya but makuha ang test in an hour,” Catbagan said.

He said that due to limited supply, they will be prioritizing the symptomatics and also direct contacts of a confirmed case for the rapid antigen testing. The RAT kit costs less than a thousand pesos each.

Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, in this case the SARS-CoV-2, which implies current viral infection. Antigen tests are currently authorized to be performed on nasopharyngeal or nasal swab specimens placed directly into the assay’s extraction buffer or reagent.

Antigen tests are relatively inexpensive and can be used at the point-of-care. The currently authorized devices return results in approximately 15 minutes. Antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 are however generally less sensitive than viral tests that detect nucleic acid using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

RAT will cut down the waiting time for the IMT to come up with a decision to isolate and quarantine a person thereby increasing the chances of cutting down the transmission of the virus.

US study shows that testing half the population with inexpensive RAT would drive the virus toward elimination within weeks—even if those tests are significantly less sensitive than RT-PCR.

According to a study published by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and University of Colorado Boulder researchers, such a strategy could lead to “personalized stay-at-home orders” without shutting down restaurants, bars, retail stores, and schools”. (CIO MATI)