Swab Cab

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Swab Cab is a free mobile antigen testing program launched by the Office of the Vice President (OVP) Leni Robredo in areas with high COVID-19 transmission aimed to help local government units (LGUs) quell rising coronavirus cases. It was conducted for a week, which started 30 March 2021, in its pilot area Malabon City.

As the existing RT-PCR tests are for those with symptoms or have been contact traced, the free antigen testing targets those without symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-positive cases. This is to prevent the asymptomatic and those who have not yet been tested from further transmitting the virus.

The Swab Cab uses antigen test kits that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and have registered a high efficacy rate. The first batch of kits were procured from privately donated funds and the OVP have appropriated more as deemed necessary.

The Swab Cab partnered with the Kaya Natin! Movement and Ube Express Inc., the same bus line that worked with the OVP which provided free shuttle services for frontliners. Three Swab Cabs go around in communities to bring the COVID-19 testing close to residents.

An antigen test uses swab samples collected to test for COVID-19. It has a faster turnaround time – an hour to be released – and has a cheaper cost. However, RT-PCR tests, which can take up to 3 days to process, remain as the gold standard in determining the presence of the coronavirus. The individuals who were tested received rice and hygiene kits while those who tested positive were given food packs and COVID-19 care kits.

Doctors and experts have reached out to the OVP to provide suggestions to make the mobile testing service more effective.




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