The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) is ramping up widespread implementation of its Covid19 saliva tests which hopefully will help the government contain the deadly Covid19 virus and bring back normalcy to the lives of the suffering millions.
Initially, the testing will be confined to the PRC molecular laboratories in Port Area, Manila and in its headquarters in Mandaluyong City.
But by February 5, all the PRC laboratories throughout the country will be able to process the saliva tests (which showed a 98-percent efficiency rate) that are cheaper, faster and less invasive compared to the RT-PCR system being extensively used by the Department of Health (DOH).
PRC chairman Richard Gordon said their Covid19 saliva test – which can be used for travel to countries like the US, Israel, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – has been approved for general use by the Laboratory Expert Panel of the DOH, so it is only a matter of time when it is distributed nationwide.
Gordon pointed out that when the DOH gives its formal nod to the saliva tests, most schools will be able to resume face-to-face classes.
This would also have a positive impact on the safety of the public in general because such saliva testing can be made part of the new normal to replace the more cumbersome swab testing method, he said.
Gordon said saliva testing is a really more practical alternative to the RT-RCR since it is cheaper (at P2,000) and uses less equipment and reagents, and the sample processing time is between 3-4 hours.
Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire clarified that aside from the Red Cross and the UP College of Medicine, no other laboratory has been cleared to administer saliva testing for Covid19 to the public.
She said that results of saliva tests done by the PRC can be deemed official and may be submitted to companies when required.
Vergeire said that laboratories found to be violating this directive face steep sanctions and fines, or closure altogether.
Vergeire said that before it can be distributed to the general public, saliva test kits have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Prior to FDA approval, she said the PRC saliva testing system will have to pass through the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) which will determine if it would yield sensitive, specific and accurate results.
Photo: Business Mirror