MANILA, Feb 4 (Mabuhay) — The accuracy of the use of saliva as specimen for RT-PCR test for COVID-19 will still be reviewed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the Department of Health said Wednesday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire made the remark in response to the questions about the initiative of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), which already entered a memorandum of agreement with a popular mall for the conduct of drive thru RT-PCR test using saliva.

Also, Vergeire’s statement was in response to suggestions that should saliva test proved to be accurate, the method could be implemented in RT-PCR laboratories nationwide.

RT-PCR test using saliva costs P2,000, cheaper than the one using specimen from a nasal swab which costs P3,400.

“Ang kailangan po natin maintindihan na iyong approval po ng saliva RT-PCR test [ng Philippine Red Cross] ay may conditionality kasi iyong positive samples na ginawa nila noon [for a study on accuracy of using saliva for RT-PCR test] ay medyo kulang pa,” Vergeire said during the Laging Handa briefing.

“Kaya for every 100 specimen, they will need to submit them to the RITM para makita kung tuloy-tuloy na magiging accurate ang result nito,” Vergeire added.

But she also expressed caution over the use of saliva test nationwide.

“Kailangan natin maging maingat. While we commend these efforts, [mas] nagiging efficient po ba tayo sa government response? Kailangan ba natin ng mass testing?” Vergeire said.

“Pinagdedebatehan na po ito noon, at sinagot na po natin na kahit saan mo sa mundo ay wala naman pong gumagawa ng mass testing. Gagawin lang po natin ang testing kung kinakailangan because of scarcity of resources,” she added.

While the country started implementing quarantine restrictions in March 2020 to prevent COVID-19 transmission, it was only in December last year that President Rodrigo Duterte said that testing is key in controlling the pandemic.  (MNS)

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