DOH conducts surveys on prices of swab tests

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    THE Department of Health yesterday said it has started surveying costs of tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in preparation for its move to regulate the prices of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, the gold standard for diagnosing disease.

    Last month, the DOH asked Malacañang to issue an order that will allow the department to regulate the prices of swab testing for COVID-19. This was amid the skyrocketing prices of RT-PCR tests, with some costing as high as P19,000.

    Malacañang is still studying the proposal, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

    “This (survey) will allow us to immediately issue specific guidelines in the event that our proposal gets a favorable decision from the OP,” she also said.

    The DOH is also busy exploring other COVID-19 diagnostic methods, such as saliva testing.

    Vergeire said the Laboratory Experts Panel last week presented its assessment of the saliva test.

    She said the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) are conducting their own evaluations of saliva testing.

    The saliva-based testing is different from the standard nasopharyngeal swab as people only need to spit into a sterile tube and bring it to the laboratory for processing.