COVID-19 saliva test: PH Red Cross to submit results of pilot study Monday

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 17 2021 05:06 PM | Updated as of Jan 17 2021 05:17 PM

The Philippine Red Cross conducts its Saliva RT-PCR Test pilot at the PRC headquarters in Mandaluyong City on January 12, 2021, simultaneously with 15 DOH hospitals. The pilot testing is in compliance with the DOH requirements to secure full approval of the new alternative testing method. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) intends to submit on Monday the result of the pilot COVID-19 saliva test it conducted on 1,000 samples, officials of the organization said Sunday.

Dr. Paulyn Ubial, head of the PRC molecular laboratories, told ABS-CBN News that the findings will be forwarded to the Department of Health (DOH), the COVID-19 Laboratory Expert Panel (CLEP), and the Office of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Tapos na kami sa saliva test. Mapapadala na namin sa… Department of Health,” Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman of the PRC, said on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

The PRC started the tests last week as instructed by the DOH. Ubial earlier said the organization submitted its application in October last year for saliva testing, which is a cheaper alternative to swab tests. However, it did not get approval from the DOH’s Health Technology Assessment Council.

Another study is being done by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

“Upon completion of both studies, results shall be assessed by the CLEP and the Health Technology Assessment Council whose recommendations will help the DOH develop an evidence-based policy on the use of saliva as alternative specimen for COVID-19 testing,” the DOH said two weeks ago.

Ubial, a former health secretary, said a COVID-19 test using saliva samples would only cost P1,500 to P2,000, compared to the P3,800 to P5,000 price range of PCR tests.

She said the turnaround time for saliva testing is also less than 12 hours as opposed to PCR tests with results released at least 24 hours after.

The Philippines’ cumulative total of COVID-19 cases reached 500,577 on Sunday, including 24,691 active infections, 465,991 recoveries and 9,895 fatalities.