Coronavirus saliva test game changer for Philippine pandemic response - ex-health secretary

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2021 09:07 AM | Updated as of Jan 19 2021 09:26 AM

Coronavirus saliva test game changer for Philippine pandemic response - ex-health secretary 1
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 - A saliva-based coronavirus testing will be a "game changer" in the country's pandemic response because it is time- and cost-efficient, a former health secretary said Tuesday.

"It will be a game changer in our COVID pandemic response because it will ensure that we detect a lot more people because it's accurate, it's fast and it's cheap," Dr. Paulyn Ubial told ANC.

The Philippine Red Cross, where she now works as head of its molecular laboratory, recently completed its pilot test of the saliva-based testing method from over 1,000 health-care workers.

"The final analysis is there is 98 percent concurrence between results of saliva test and swab test," she said.

The COVID-19 saliva test uses the same reagents and machines as the RT-PCR test, the gold standard in detecting the illness.

"The specificity and sensitivity of the test is the same as the swab test," she added.

Ubial said the method, which only requires a person to drool into a sterile vial, was also being used in Japan, US and UK. Results will be released after 3 hours and it only costs around P2,000 or less.

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The country, Ubial said, is currently conducting 30,000 daily testing where the PRC contributes at least 8,000.

By using the COVID-19 saliva test, she said the PRC could reach its maximum laboratory capacity of 47,000 a day.

"We hope the Department of Health and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) will give the certification or approval very soon because we can test more people," she added.

Since the country's first infection was detected in January 2020, the Philippines has logged 502,736 coronavirus cases. The nationwide tally includes 465,988 recoveries, 26,839 active cases and 9,909 fatalities.

The health department said Monday it was just waiting for results from PRC's pilot test if coronavirus saliva testing could be used in the country.

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