Red Cross eyes cheaper, faster COVID-19 test | Inquirer News

Red Cross eyes cheaper, faster COVID-19 test

/ 05:22 AM October 08, 2020

CUTTING COSTS A Red Cross worker takes a swab sample of a patient at the Philippine Red Cross laboratory in Mandaluyong City in April. —INQUIRER PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is working with two universities on a saliva test for COVID-19 that will not only be faster but also cheaper.

In a Laging Handa public briefing on Tuesday, Red Cross chair Sen. Richard Gordon said they were experimenting with the use of reagents that could be used to test three samples, which means lower costs for swab testing.


“We are studying a reagent which can test up to three (samples). We are working on a new saliva test with the University of Illinois and the University of the Philippines with faster results,” he said.

According to Gordon, “once we get the permits from the Department of Health on the saliva test, the costs will go down. It’s already with the expert panel for approval. We have to expedite that.”


“In our regular COVID-19 testing, we can lessen the reagent. Doctors told me it’s still good. The dilution can have a 1:3 ratio, so one reagent can possibly be used to test three. Divide the P3,500 or P4,000 by three, the costs would reach P1,500 or P2,000,” he said.

A swab test conducted by the PRC currently costs around P4,000, still relatively cheaper than those done in private hospitals, which can go up to as high as P9,000 for faster results. Hospitals and laboratories that use donated machines and test kits charge around P1,750 to P2,000 per swab test.

The PRC has 10 molecular laboratories to validate the samples. These are located in Mandaluyong City, Manila, Clark in Pampanga, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority in Zambales, Batangas City, Mandaue City in Cebu, Bacolod City and Zamboanga City.

Other laboratories will also be opened in Isabela, Surigao del Norte, Antique, Quezon and Laguna.

Gordon assured the public that the PRC’s medical technologists were well-trained and very careful in collecting swab samples amid reports that a patient in the United States ended up with injuries to her brain lining after a swab test.

“I don’t think it’s [going to] happen here because we are very, very careful with Red Cross. We have not encountered any incidents. They only complain of itchy noses afterwards,” he said.

Over 1M tests conducted

According to Gordon, the PRC has conducted 1,003,754 PCR tests, the highest in the country, followed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the Chinese General Hospital.


“It’s not a competition, but I use this to give my people a pat on the back. The truth is we work with everybody, the government and other institutions so we can fight COVID-19 and finally eradicate it in our country,” he said.

Those who want to book and pay for a swab test to be conducted by the PRC can go to its website

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