PRC starts pilot run of cheaper, ‘less invasive’ saliva COVID-19 testing
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) launched on Tuesday the pilot run of its saliva-based COVID-19 testing, which is seen as a cheaper and “less invasive” alternative to swab tests.
“I think it’s a game-changer. We used to have difficulty getting swabbed. They get into our nose, our throat. Now it’s less invasive,” Sen. Richard Gordon, PRC chairman, told reporters in a briefing, speaking partly in Filipino.
“The cost is much less — at least P2,000,” he added.
— Richard J. Gordon (@DickGordonDG) January 12, 2021
Gordon has been pushing for the use of saliva tests to detect the new coronavirus, saying this would cut the cost and yield fast results with 99.9 percent reliability.
The PRC already submitted to the Department of Health (DOH) the results of the tests it conducted to assess the accuracy of saliva tests in detecting the coronavirus.
It’s still waiting for the approval of the DOH before saliva tests for COVID-19 can be institutionalized.
According to Gordon, the PRC plans to conduct 1,000 saliva-based tests in its pilot run with be parallel swab testing. The results of both will then be compared for accuracy.
How is it done?
Gordon explained that only a milliliter of saliva would be needed for the test. The specimen will then be put in a sterile bottle and submitted to a PRC laboratory.
The samples would then be marked with a bar code so that they would not be misplaced.
It could only take at least three hours to know the result of a saliva-based test, Gordon noted.
“If this is approved, many of our fellow Filipinos will be able to undergo testing and return to their work,” Gordon said in a tweet in Filipino.
He called the test a “game-changer” the fight against COVID-19, as people can get the test more frequently because it would be more affordable.
Apart from the PRC, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is also studying the potential use of saliva testing for the coronavirus.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that “chances are big” for the approval of saliva testing, although its accuracy remained subject to validation.
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