MANILA, Jan 26 (Mabuhay) –The cheaper and non-invasive saliva COVID-19 test can be used by those taking a trip abroad, those taking the Bar exams and even students before they return to classrooms, the Philippine Red Cross said Tuesday.
The non-government organization on Monday launched the saliva COVID-19 test in its Metro Manila laboratories and is aiming to roll it out across the country by February, its chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said.
The procedure, priced at around P2,000, also uses polymerase chain reaction just like the gold standard RT-PCR test which is required in airports and tourist destinations nationwide.
The Red Cross can lower the price to P1,500 if there is a huge volume in testing, Gordon said.
“Pinayagan na ‘yan ng DOH (Department of Health), pati sa airport payag na lahat d’yan. May PCR ‘yan, hindi nawala ang PCR. We cannot do it without the PCR. Otherwise you’ll have bad results,” he said.
“It’s almost equally accurate as the gold standard. (RT-)PCR is still the gold standard, that’s why we’re not letting it go. In our test we had about 99 percent (accuracy) sa (RT-)PCR, 98 percent sa saliva.”
The saliva COVID-19 test can also be used by workers, students, and Bar examinees, Gordon said.
“Nagusap kami ni Justice (Marvic) Leonen kahapon, 2 taon na silang di nagba-Bar. Bago mag-Bar they can do the saliva test within 14 days then they can take the Bar. Uniformed services they can take that,” he said.
“For the school children they can now go to school because now makikita natin sino ang maaaring nagdadala ng sakit at maaayos natin kaagad.”
Gordon said the procedure should be covered by state insurer PhilHealth, which has incurred millions of debt to the PRC due to coronavirus testing of returning Filipino migrant workers.
“It should be according to the Secretary of Health. I think they should be jumping with joy because instead of paying us more, they are paying us less,” he said.
The senator, meantime, reiterated the importance of testing even as the country secured supplies of COVID-19 vaccines.
“You cannot do away with testing kahit meron ka nang vaccine kailangan magti-test ka. Kailangan may protection ka pa ng face mask, hugas ng kamay, atsaka distancing,” he said.(MNS)
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