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Red Cross admits ‘false positives’ possible

PRC said out of the 48 samples, 45 turned out positive, which triggered a complete re-run

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The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has defended itself against allegations that its Covid-19 test laboratory in Subic submitted “false positive” results.

PRC was responding to the complaint filed before the Department of Health (DoH) by 48 medical workers of the Unihealth-Baypointe Hospital and Medical Center.

Headed by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chair Senator Richard Gordon, Red Cross “acknowledged” the possibility of false-positive results, stressing that “no test is 100 percent accurate.”

However, PRC Secretary-General Elizabeth Zavalla maintained there was no reported contamination in the testing laboratory at the time the 48 samples were tested on 3 September and that the machine yielded “normal values.”

“Our results are valid. Since many turned out positive, the laboratory’s pathologist decided to re-test the samples and the machines yielded similar results,” she said.

In another statement by PRC, it pointed out that out of the 48 samples, 45 turned out positive, which triggered a complete re-run and a manual process to eliminate the possibility of erroneous results, which may be caused by cross-contamination.

The “false positives” were raised by two lawmakers during a hearing at the House of Representatives which DoH chief Francisco Duque III confirmed.

According to Duque, the hospital personnel sent their samples to PRC-Subic which returned positive to Covid-19 results.

In disbelief as they are all fully vaccinated, they got tested again at Medical City in Clark on 6 September and of the number, only five samples tested positive, Duque said.

The health chief tasked the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to validate the tests.

Zavalla explained that since the hospital workers got tested only after three days, the “situation may have changed.”

She also disclosed that this was not the first time that PRC’s laboratory was accused of yielding a “false positive” result.

“There was one instance wherein a ‘Secretary’ got tested here and thought of receiving a false-positive result, but RITM validated our test,” she said.

PRC maintained that all of its 13 laboratories nationwide have “standardized test methodology and procedures.”

Other PRC molecular laboratories are located in Mandaluyong, Batangas, Isabela, Manila, Bacolod, Iloilo and Zamboanga.

Gordon on Tuesday lobbed fireballs of his own toward the Palace by the Pasig River.

The President has consistently tagged the Senate hearings led by Gordon as a political witch hunt.

Duterte has maintained there was no overprice and no anomaly in the purchase of PPE by Singapore-based Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation linked to his former economic adviser Michael Yang.

Pharmally’s declared capitalization of P625,000 for the P8.6-billion PS-DBM and DoH deal was a non-issue, Presidential spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque has said, because the PPE sets had been delivered.

Gordon has also been chided for “conflict of interest” for hitting government while Red Cross has hundreds of millions of pesos worth of transactions with the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, on the provision of Covid-19 RT-PCR Covid-19 tests.

Gordon was also questioned why Red Cross was not providing discounts to seniors and persons with disabilities it tested using PhilHealth funds.

With Sundy Locus

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