THE Philippine Red Cross will start saliva tests for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) today in its laboratories in Manila and Mandaluyong cities,
Other PRC laboratories will gradually make available the saliva testing in the coming weeks.
“By February 14, we will already be available nationwide. That’s Red Cross’ Valentine’s Day gift to the Filipino people,” said Dr. Paulyn Ubial, head of the PRC’s Molecular Laboratories.
“The Red Cross platform is now booking saliva RT PCR at P2,000 per test starting 8 a.m. tomorrow (Monday),” she said.
The Department of Health on Saturday announced it has approved the use of saliva testing proposed by the PRC after getting a positive recommendation from the laboratory experts panel.
The test is still limited to PRC laboratories until a parallel study of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on saliva testing is completed.
Saliva-based testing is different from the standard nasopharyngeal swab as people need only to spit into a sterile tube and bring it to the laboratory for processing.
Saliva tests use the same machines as the RT-PCR testing.
The specimen processing time is also shorter compared to other tests as it runs for only three to four hours.
PRC chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said being a cheaper and an easier testing method, the saliva test “could pave the way to test more students, healthcare workers, factory workers, company employees, and other essential workers.”
“If more people would avail the saliva test, we can also lower the cost in the future,” he added.