Albano of BioSci, Medicine students propose solutions to cross-contamination in laboratories handling COVID-19 tests

Prof. Pia Marie S.P. Albano, PhD, joined by Faculty of Medicine and Surgery’s Kin Israel Notarte and Imee Macaranas, as well as Philippine Genome Center’s Benedict Maralit, recently published a review article in the Philippine Journal of Pathology to propose solutions that may address the problem of cross-contamination in COVID-19 testing facilities.

In the article, Albano and her co-authors noted how the Philippines was able to expand its testing capacity from a single national reference laboratory, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, to “more than 100 licensed reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and cartridge-based PCR laboratories around the country.” However, this situation entailed the hiring of additional personnel who “have limited experience and technical knowledge and skills of molecular assays,” making the process vulnerable to diagnostic errors that can compromise patient safety and public health policy.

The authors grouped their suggestions into two major categories: specimen handling and analytical issues. While the authors noted that the demand for tests increased exponentially, resulting in manpower and resource constraints, the adherence to recommended testing protocols cannot be done away with. Among these protocols are proper infection control in laboratories and among personnel, who must regularly conduct disinfection. The authors likewise reiterated the need to adhere to World Health Organization and Department of Health guidelines in order to ensure reliability of test results.

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