PH eyes faster, cheaper virus tests with pooled, saliva-based process


Posted at Dec 03 2020 08:38 AM | Updated as of Dec 03 2020 08:41 AM

MANILA - The Philippines is eyeing cheaper and faster coronavirus testing by combining pooled testing with saliva-based virus tests, one of the country's presidential advisers said Thursday.

The Department of Health has yet to release its guidelines on pooled testing, which works in areas with less than 5 percent of COVID-19 prevalence, said Joey Concepcion, presidential adviser on entrepreneurship.

"In line [with] pooled PCR testing, instead of swabbing 5 people, ang gagamitin mo lang dito 'yung saliva ng 5 tao. Talagang mas mura ang mangyayari dito," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(In line [with] pooled PCR testing, instead of swabbing 5 people, you will just use their saliva. It's cheaper.)

"Sa America ganyan na ang ginagawa nila, saliva-based kesa swab. Mas convenient sa mga tao, mas mabilis nang kaunti and mas mura kasi wala ka nang swabbers, extraction machine."

(It's what they do in America. It's more convenient, faster, and cheaper because you don't need swabbers and extraction machine.)

The test will cost some P650 for each person, Concepcion said.

The Philippine Red Cross might finish its study on saliva-based tests next month, he added.

"It’s important maski may vaccine na tayo tuloy pa rin ang testing (that our testing continues even if we have a vaccine) because we will not be able to inoculate all Filipino people in 2021," he said.

The Philippines and private firms last week signed a supply agreement for British drug group AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine.

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