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Frequent testing of the asymptomatic pushed

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An expert is proposing frequent testing of the asymptomatic twice weekly or at least once weekly to revive the economy and boost public confidence.

“While the number of Covid-19 cases will presumably decline as more people are vaccinated, the virus remains unlikely to be completely eradicated, even if the pandemic is largely controlled,” UP-Philippine General Hospital Medical Research Laboratory chief Dr. Januario Veloso said.

Veloso said the importance of testing will continue to be high as some people will decide not to be vaccinated while some might not have access to vaccines for some time.

“New viral variants may be resistant to current vaccines, and we don’t know how long vaccine-conferred immunity might last. Increased air travel between countries also introduces additional risk of spreading the virus and mutations, depending on disparities in virus control among different regions,” he added.

Veloso advocated for highly accurate more quality laboratory testing though costs can also increase.

“So if you can do your own testing in your own institution and maybe negotiate for a lower price with the supplier, then it could lower your costs of your tests significantly,” he advised companies.

Veloso said antigen rapid testing is also seen as a cost-effective and efficient solution to identify the most infectious.

He urged bigger firms to utilize pooled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as a surveillance testing program for Covid-19.

“This (pooled PCR) test also (will) significantly reduce cost but maybe this will be for the bigger companies. But for the smaller companies, probably, an antigen-based test strategy would be better,” Veloso said.

He said other lower sensitivity tests for surveillance testing include direct PCR testing, rapid point of care PCR, and saliva and nasal swab samples for easier or even self sample collection.

“Normally, the cost of the tests will be around a thousand pesos to make it more manageable in terms of budget and always choose tests with acceptable sensitivity and high specificity,” he added.

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