In response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, BDO Foundation is supporting a mass testing initiative touted by medical experts as highly effective, cost efficient and scientifically sound. The corporate social responsibility arm of BDO Unibank–in partnership with Go Negosyo, the local government of Makati City, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (PCMC) and the Philippine Society of Pathologists (PSP)–is all set for the pilot implementation of pooled testing for underserved sectors in Makati.
Pooled testing combines swab samples from individuals and examines them together using a single reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kit. Pools of five, 10 or 20 persons are tested depending on the prevalence of COVID-19 in an area. Considered a game changer in the fight to contain the coronavirus, the method is expected to boost testing capacity, expedite tests and significantly reduce the cost of RT-PCR kits. Based on extensive research conducted by the PSP, pooled testing is very effective.
The joint initiative was officially unveiled in a virtual event witnessed by BDO Unibank and BDO Foundation chairperson Teresita Sy-Coson, BDO Unibank president and CEO and BDO Foundation trustee Nestor V. Tan, BDO Foundation president Mario A. Deriquito and BDO Foundation trustee Ma. Corazon Mallillin.
The event was also attended by Go Negosyo founder Joey Concepcion, Makati City mayor Abigail Binay, PCMC executive director Dr. Julius Lecciones, PSP president Dr. Roberto Padua Jr. and Iloilo 1st District representative Dr. Janette Garin. Dr. Garin said the collaboration “will pave the way for a model that other local government units can follow. The outcome of this pilot implementation of pooled testing will be cascaded to other LGUs.”
“I am pleased to note that the first to respond to our call for support is BDO Foundation,” Concepcion remarked. “They have been really supportive of every effort needed to address the health situation, which will eventually help our economy. Thank you for your untiring support and helping the people overcome this crisis.”
“We believe in this worthy cause,” Sy-Coson said. “When we learned that it will be pilot tested in Makati, we were excited to participate. We look forward to working with our partners in making this project possible.”
According to Deriquito, “We at BDO Foundation support pooled testing because we believe the method has immense potential in making RT-PCR testing more affordable and accessible to as many Filipinos as possible. We expect this intervention to have a remarkable impact not only on cities and provinces but on the country as a whole.”
Pooled RT-PCR testing is the latest corporate citizenship initiative undertaken by BDO Foundation in response to COVID-19. The foundation previously supported the government’s RapidPass System, donating equipment that enabled the quick passage of vehicles of frontliners at checkpoints during the enhanced community quarantine. It backed ReliefAgad, a web application that automated and accelerated the distribution of financial assistance to beneficiaries of the government’s Social Amelioration Program. BDO Foundation also launched the Peso for Peso Donation Drive to raise resources for the purchase of test kits for distribution to underserved communities nationwide.