CNN Philippines – Published Jan 12, 2021 6:55:10 PM
Metro Manila — The Philippine Red Cross pilot tested its saliva tests on Tuesday, saying once approved it can be an alternative to the current swab tests to detect COVID-19.
“Right now we can say that once approved, it can substitute.” Dr. Michael Tee, the PRC’s lead researcher for the tests said at a press briefing Tuesday.
But Tee added not every laboratory has the machine that can analyze saliva samples. Also, the PRC only looked at a specific machine.
“Note that the saliva testing is only for the Sansure machine… So, the validation study done by Red Cross is specific for this machine, and whoever has the machine and partners with Red Cross may be able to use it as a service offering for our people for cheaper and more convenient testing,” he said.
Those with other machines may require another validation study, he added.
PRC chairman Senator Richard Gordon said a saliva test costs around ₱2,000, but they are working to bring this down further.
“Mas mura, mas mabilis, at hindi na kailangan ng PPE. Pwede kayong puntahan sa bahay…good for senior citizens na takot lumabas sa bahay,” he said during the briefing.
[Translation: It’s more affordable, faster, and PPEs are not needed. They can come to your house…good for senior citizens who are wary of going out.]
The PRC said the concordance between the saliva test and the swab test is 95%.
Gordon added he sees people preferring the saliva test as it’s quicker, less expensive, and non-invasive.
One milliliter of saliva sample will be taken from each person. Gordon said this sample will be available for seven days and thus, no cold chain is needed.
The PRC is doing saliva tests on 1,000 frontliners — the last step before the Department of Health gives them the green light to administer it regularly.
CNN Philippines’ Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.