CHCC’s Muna:  Antibody tests not 100% accurate

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NOTING the low accuracy of many antibody tests, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation Chief Executive Officer Esther Muna is not recommending its inclusion in the community-based testing initiatives.

“The antibody testing is not recommended at this time. There are studies ongoing about it. So far, it is not 100% accurate — they have like 50% to 75% accuracy level,” Muna said during the virtual general meeting of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday morning.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website, antibody or serology tests detect the presence of antibodies in the blood when the body is responding to a specific infection like Covid-19.

But Muna said the low accuracy level of the tests “can be problematic.”

Currently, CHCC and the governor’s Covid-19 Task Force are using various platforms to test individuals for Covid-19.

Task force chairman Warren Villagomez said they may use antibody tests in the future, but at present, they already have sufficient platforms to perform surveillance and confirmatory readings for Covid-19 test results.

Should CHCC and the task force decide to use antibody tests, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said his administration will provide the needed resources to acquire those tests.

Low level of infections

As of June 3, the CNMI had recorded 23 cumulative confirmed Covid-19 cases, two deaths, 16 recoveries and five active cases.

“The key ingredient in ensuring public health safety for our population is to have the ability to test and the capacity to address the surge, if there is a surge,” Muna said, adding that having a robust contact tracing team is also important.

The CHCC Bureau of Environmental Health and Disease Prevention, headed by John Tagabuel, is in charge of contact tracing and surveillance activity.

The bureau is also responsible for detecting other infectious diseases that could potentially pose a threat to public health.

As for the alternate care site or ACS at Kanoa Resort, Villagomez said, “Right now, we are waiting for the medical equipment that will be arriving in a couple of days. The equipment will be bench tested and then we will start installing them at their appropriate sites within the ACS,” he added.

The task force, he said, is also working with CHCC director of medical affairs Dr. John Tudela to make sure that the services and treatment requirements at the ACS are met.

He added that the Pacific Islands Club is still being utilized as quarantine site for newly arrived passengers.

Staff members from the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, the Department of Public Safety, and the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services are overseeing the quarantine site.

Muna reiterated that CHCC is not accepting test results from off island. All passengers arriving on Saipan have to go through the quarantine protocol, she added.

Those who arrive on Saipan to perform critical infrastructure or response work are exempted from quarantine, but they will get tested on the first day of their arrival.

“And they will continue to be monitored through the Sara Alert system so that we have a continuous monitoring of the individuals that are here,” Muna said.



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