With the number of COVID-19 cases rising to unprecedented levels again, and both national and local governments putting in place stricter restrictions on the unvaccinated, more people are looking to buy – and, not a few, sell – test kits.
The kits all the more become in demand as some government memoranda and executive orders specify that unvaccinated workers can only come to work if they undergo tests every two weeks at their own expense.
Below are the lists of RT-PCR, antigen, and antibody rapid test kit brands that the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for commercial use, based on the performance evaluation and recommendation of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, as of March 15, 2022.
RT-PCR test kits
These type of tests are still considered the “gold standard” for testing if someone is positive for COVID-19 because it continues to deliver the most accurate results. RT-PCR tests are done by health care professionals.
Antigen test kits
Antigen tests are most useful for people already experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. An antigen test result that is positive is likely accurate in detecting COVID-19, but a negative test result often needs to be confirmed by an RT-PCR test.
Those included in the list below are tests that are recommended to be administered and interpreted by health professionals:
Meanwhile, this list contains the FDA's approved self-administered antigen tests:
Antibody rapid test kits
Antibody rapid test kits are currently not recommended to be used as standalone tests to diagnose COVID-19, nor for screening, return-to-work decisions, and entry across borders, among others. This is because antibody tests "are unreliable in determining whether or not one has the COVID virus," the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) said.
Such tests have varying degrees of performance, HTAC added, while its accuracy depends not only on the test itself, but also on factors like timing of when the test is done and how results are interpreted. Currently, only licensed medical doctors may request, administer, and interpret results of rapid antibody-based test.
– Sofia Tomacruz, Michael Bueza, Jodesz Gavilan, Loreben Tuquero, Michelle Abad/Rappler.com