Abbott’s COVID-19 antigen rapid tests help Philippines fight infection surge

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COVID-19 testing in the Philippines has been ramping up with the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) procuring and distributing the Abbott Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device for the detection of COVID-19 among suspected patients.

The procurement of 500,000 Panbio rapid antigen tests is part of the OCD’s COVID-19 response to the pandemic. It was distributed to 45 hospitals and LGUs in Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

Along with the newly introduced lab-based SARS-CoV-2 IgG II (Immunoglobulin G) quantitative antibody test, Abbott’s Panbio rapid antigen tests offer a range of solutions in fighting COVID-19. “The Abbott Panbio antigen test, which has received WHO (World Health Organisation) Emergency Use Listing, will greatly help us quickly detect positive cases within minutes and allow for faster tracing and isolation as we battle this wave of infections,” said Vince Dizon, Deputy Chief Implementer of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19.

The test device can be used in a variety of community settings and provides results in as fast as 15 minutes. It is an efficient tool in enabling decentralized testing in the country, as Dr. Januario Veloso, UP-PGH Medical Research Laboratory Chief, said, “Given the urgency, the need for short turnaround times and opportunities for expanding decentralized testing, tests such as the Panbio rapid antigen tests can strengthen public health efforts to control the transmission of the coronavirus.”

Results from Abbott’s clinical study of 508 samples showed that Panbio COVID-19 Ag with a nasal swab has a 98.1% sensitivity and 99.8% specificity on people who were suspected of exposure to COVID-19 or had symptoms in the last seven days.

Four hundred million units of the test device were shipped worldwide in 2020, and Abbott aims to distribute millions more in the Philippines in the coming months.

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