Easier, quicker saliva-based Covid-19 test ‘good alternative’

MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed openness on the use of the saliva-based test for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) which recently garnered a 99 percent detection rate in the United States.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Presidential Photo)

Citing the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), Duterte said the saliva-based test would be a good alternative to the more expensive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test.

“May bago daw, sabi naman nito ni Gordon na ang swabbing sa saliva is 99 percent. Oh eh ‘di iyan na ang gagamitin natin (There’s a new type of test, Gordon said swabbing saliva is 99 percent effective. Then let’s use that instead),” he said late Monday night, referring to PRC Chairman Richard Gordon.

Earlier, PRC biomolecular laboratories head and former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said administering the saliva-based tests does not require swab kits, a specimen collector and skilled professional, nor expensive collection vials.

Processing time for saliva samples is only three hours compared to the swab tests that can take six to seven hours.

The saliva test recommendation reached the Department of Health (DOH) for approval as early as November. However, the government has yet to decide on the use of these tests.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque expressed hope that the cheaper Covid-19 test would also be used in the Philippines once it receives approval from health authorities.

“Hallelujah! Sana maipasok na sa Pilipinas ‘yan (I hope it reaches the Philippines soon). And of course, we’re asking the FDA for speedy evaluation para makakuha na tayo ng mas mura na test laban sa Covid-19 (so we can get a cheaper Covid-19 test),” he said.

Meanwhile, Duterte also cautioned airport authorities from skipping health and safety protocols for travellers, warning that unauthorized travel would worsen the risk of contamination.

“There are reports that some people are skipping, na nakakalusot sila (they can slip past) with the help of airport personnel at sa mga barko (in ships). I say this now as I have said it before: Do not do it kasi mayayari talaga kayo (because you’ll be in trouble),” he said.

He threatened to dismiss them if they continued their dishonest practice.

“So do not go into this rigmarole of you know, magsabi ka doon na tapos na, ganoon, ganoon or you bring your fake certificates. Iyan — iyan talaga ang maghanap kayo ng gulo. At iyong mga taga airport, alam mo, hindi ba ninyo nahalata na lahat ng — lahat ng Immigration personnel diyan, about 42 of them at marami pang iba ang na-dismiss sa trabaho. Gusto ninyo ulitin ko ‘yan (you say it’s done and you bring your fake certificates. You’re really looking for trouble. And those working in the airport, haven’t you noticed that immigration personnel there, about 42 of them and many more have been dismissed. Do you want me to repeat that)?” he said.

Duterte said health authorities involved in assisting travellers in evading the mandatory 14-day quarantine would also be fired.

“Look, kayong mga taga health diyan, sa mga taga-quarantine, pagka may na — may nahuli lang ako na isa, I will — lahat kayo palitan ko (You health officials in charge of implementing quarantine, if I catch one skipping quarantine, I’ll replace all of you). I will assign you to the provinces and I will get the new ones from the other — assigned in other cities also,” he said. (PNA)

By Azer Parrocha, PNA  January 5, 2021