PH Red Cross to conduct 1,000 saliva COVID-19 tests in pilot

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 10 2021 11:02 AM | Updated as of Jan 10 2021 11:09 AM

Health workers wait for test samples outside The Lord’s Grace Medical and Industrial Clinic, a molecular diagnostic laboratory in Pasay City on Sept. 29, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross will conduct 1,000 saliva COVID-19 tests beginning Monday as part of its study, an official said Sunday.

The cheaper COVID-19 test is found to have "95 percent concordance rate" with the RT-PCR test, according to Dr. Paulyn Ubial, head of PRC biomolecular laboratories.

The non-government organization presented this to the health department in October but received feedback just this month, she said.

"At ngayon, pinapayagan nila tayo ilabas yung 1,000 additional samples na gagawin po natin simula kay Sen. (Richard) Gordon as our pilot implementation next week, umpisa ng Monday," she told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Now, they're allowing us to release 1,000 additional samples that we'll begin with Sen. Gordon as our pilot in our implementation Monday.)

"Hopefully, makuha natin ang 1,000 samples at ma-send natin sa Department of Health next week."

(Hopefully, we'll complete the tests on the 1,000 samples, and send the results to the Department of Health next week.)

Gordon, chairman of the PRC, said PhilHealth would be "relieved" by the cheaper COVID-19 test. The embattled state insurer's debt to Red Cross for coronavirus testing has again nearly reached P1 billion.

"Marami silang dinadahilan. Ito, imbis na P4,000 ang bayad, magiging P2,000 na lang. Baka ibaba pa natin yan kung talagang marami," the senator said.

(They give many reasons. This test will cost P2,000 instead of P4,000. We can lower it if many will be tested.)

Gordon said the PhilHealth made another partial payment of P265,000 last week, leaving over P651 million in outstanding debt to the PRC.

The PRC has conducted over 1.6 million COVID-19 tests, as of Sunday, he said.

The Philippines' confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 485,797 on Saturday, of which, 26,784 are active infections, 9,398 led to deaths, and 449,615 have recovered.

The country is using RT-PCR and antigen modes of testing to detect COVID-19.

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