RITM clears Red Cross in Covid-testing cases


THE Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has stated that it found “no evidence of contamination” for the 48 cases tested by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Subic laboratory and the results were found to be “valid and reliable” following their investigation that was ordered by President Duterte.

In a letter to PRC on October 13, 2021, the RITM said it has completed its investigation and issued the results to the PRC.

With this development, the PRC said that they are grateful to the RITM for its “unbiased investigation” into the matter.

“As it is auxiliary to the government, they fully support its testing and vaccination program. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, when the RITM could only conduct up to 300 tests a day, PhilHealth [Philippine Health Insurance Corp.] approached PRC to establish molecular laboratories to address the need for more extensive testing,” PRC recalled.

It may be recalled that in late September, Duterte allies in the House of Representatives questioned the 45 false positive results out of 48 RT-PCR swab tests administered in September 2020 at the Subic Baypointe Hospital and tested at the PRC Molecular Laboratory in Subic.

The House hearings coincided with Duterte’s mounting of attacks on Sen. Richard J. Gordon, PRC chairman, who also heads the Blue Ribbon panel leading the Senate inquiry into questioned multibillion contracts for pandemic supplies where a businessman-friend of the President was implicated.

The RITM, which oversees all molecular laboratories, was then tasked to investigate the suspected PRC testing contamination incidents.

In defending their laboratories, the PRC immediately issued a statement that the test methodology and procedures were standardized in all its laboratories which were given a 100-percent rating when subjected to RITM proficiency tests.

The PRC also disclosed that it immediately conducted test re-runs at its own cost “due to the unusually high positive results; although the output remained the same. It further stated that the timing of tests done relative to exposure is a factor that may produce different results; thus, re-tests done in a different laboratory  from samples taken three days after the first test could very well produce negative results since the clients could already be negative by the time the second samples were taken.”

The PRC lamented that it has found itself a victim of “unsubstantiated allegations” in recent months, expressing belief that it has something to do with the evidence against involved parties in the awarding of more than P8.7 billion in contracts for alleged overpriced medical supplies to an undercapitalized company under the Bayanihan to Heal Act.

PRC currently has 14 molecular laboratories throughout the country and can run up to 48,000 tests a day. Its laboratories account for more than 21 percent of all tests conducted in the Philippines.

To date, PRC has conducted more than 4.6 million tests.

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